Red Violin

Francois Giraud's new film is certainly ambitious. The Red Violin follows the life of a red violin (duh) over three hundred years, and chronicles the stories of the people that it encounters. It stars, among others, Samuel L. Jackson, Carlo Cecchi, Irene Graziola, Anita Laurenzi, Jen-Luc Bideau, Christoph Koncz, Greta Scacchi, Jason Flemying, Sylvia Chang, Liu Zi Feng, Monique Mercure, Don McKellar, Colm Feore, and more. It is certainly an impressive cast, full of well known American, Italian, and Chinese actors.

At the beginning of the film, the wife of an Italian violin maker, pregnant with their child, goes to get her fortune read. She doesn't realize that the fortune is not hers, but he violin's. As time moves on, the violin travels to an orphage in Vienna, a concert house in England, China in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, and to a present day auction house in Montreal. The settings are varied and the cinematography is gorgeous. Each story has its own unique feel to it. The only disappointing thing is that except for the present day, each story, intriguing at first, becomes easily predictable, and about halfway through each one, you know what is going to happen and are just waiting for the next one to begin. Each story is intercut with a little bit of Jackson in the present day, and as more of the violin's life is revealed, more of Jackson's story is also told.

The idea of following an inanimate object as it passes through the hands of people is not new. ABC tried unsuccessfully a couple of years ago with their series Gun.. Here, Giraud does an decent job with the idea. You can't help but be riveted by John Corigliano's score, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen with violin solos by Joshua Bell. Overall, if some time was sliced off of each story, and of the entire 2 hours plus running time, the life of the red violin could have been much more compelling.

Mongoose rates is: Not bad
2 hours, 11 minutes, Italian, German, French, and Mandarin with English subtitles, Not Rated

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