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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Devil’s Violinist movie review: all the wrong notes

The Devil's Violinist red light

A hilariously histrionic depiction of 19th-century superstar violinist Niccolò Paganini’s rise to fame, far more Monty Python than Mozart.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Superstar violinist David Garrett had better keep his day job. Even as real-life 19th-century superstar violinist Niccolò Paganini, Garrett has badly overstretched his, ahem, minimalistic acting talent; I am being overly generous when I say that his vacant stare would have a plank of plywood laughing with derision at his impersonation of it. Paganini is supposed to be a capricious genius who is utterly irresistible to the ladies, but writer-director Bernard Rose (Sx_Tape) manages only the most hilariously histrionic depiction of Paganini’s rise to fame: it’s far more Monty Python than Mozart. (The Devil’s Violinist tries to hit a lot of the same notes as Amadeus… but misses all the charm, suspense, and drama. It’s almost incoherent when it isn’t expending so much energy on being ridiculous.) Jared Harris (The Boxtrolls) makes a five-course meal of the scenery and sports a wonderfully terrible vaguely Germanic accent as Paganini’s manager, who is apparently intended to be some sort of righthand man to Satan. A deal with the devil would be required to save this flick, which is crammed with false emotional notes and anticlimaxes that don’t appear to have required any demonic assistance to achieve. But I suspect even the Master of Darkness himself would disavow any knowledge of this.

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The Devil’s Violinist (2015)
US/Can release: Jan 30 2015 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: direct to DVD

MPAA: rated R for some strong sexuality/nudity, and for drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (strong sex, drug use)

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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