The Red Violin

COMPOSERS: Francois Girard
PERFORMER: John Corigliano


What are we to make of Francois Girard’s THE RED VIOLIN? Will it repeat the success of his celebrated 32 Short Films About Glenn Gouldl Frankly I doubt it, though it’s just as much an extended jeu d’esprit.

A miraculous violin, a pack of tarot cards, a couple of talented tots, a mane-tossing Paganini-figure, and an endlessly repeated auction: this awkward blend of realism and whimsy jumps back and forth through the centuries until one longs for terra firma – indeed, the most solid thing in the film is Joshua Bell playing John Corigliano’s score off-screen.


The dialogue has its risible moments, notably when the Jagger-like Paganini regrets his inability to join Greta Scacchi in Russia. ‘I can’t go – I have concerts!’ – ‘I know, darling,’ she purrs in truly 1999 tones. ‘I should have pinned you to the mattress when last I had the chance,’ he later muses over her photograph. ‘When last I…’? Yes, we’re talking period romance here, with soft porn thrown in.