The Red Violin

on November 06, 1998 by Kevin Courrier
   When Francois Girard made his award-winning film "Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould," he brought a playful and comic spirit to a complex and serious subject, and the result was truly splendid. In "The Red Violin," he has a romantic subject that should be playful and comic, but he treats it like High Mass for the arts. When a violin virtuoso lies naked in a bed with a violin cradled in his crotch, stroking the neck, the intent unfortunately is solemn rather than silly.
   The story is ambitious and sprawling, beginning in Cremona, Italy in the 17th century, where a craftsman completes work on a violin for his wife who ultimately dies in childbirth. The film then traces the life of the violin through the centuries, possessed by prodigies, until it ends up in an auction in present-day Montreal.
   "The Red Violin" is supposed to be about how this violin--born out of love, obsession and tragedy--inspires passion in those who possess it. But it would probably inspire laughs if the film weren't so earnest, or made by such talented individuals.    Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Greta Scacchi. Directed by Francois Girard. Written by Don McKellar and Francois Girard. Produced by Niv Fichman. A Lions Gate release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 130 min.
Tags: Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Greta Scacchi, Directed by Francois Girard. Written by Don McKellar, Francois Girard, Produced by Niv Fichman, Lions Gate, Drama

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