The Red Violin

Director:Francois Girard
Writers:Don McKellar and Francois Girard
Lions Gate Films; 130 minutes;unrated
Cast:Carlo Cecchi, Jason Flemyng, Samuel L. Jackson

From the director of 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould comes The Red Violin, another unfocused meditation on the role of art in society and individual motivations for artistic fervor and brilliance. Seventeenth-century violin-maker Nicolo Bussoti (Carlo Cecchi) pours his soul into the creation of a red violin after the death of his wife and child (whose birth the instrument was supposed to celebrate). This movie traces the wandering path of the fated violin throughout the next three centuries-the French Revolution, Chairman Mao's China, 18th century Oxford, and modern-day Montreal all form historical backdrops to various vignettes about the violin's possession.

Awkward casting and an over-ambitious narrative construction prove fatal to the movie. By playing out with a strained haste, The Red Violin's notes stumble over one another in staccato freefall and fail to achieve a unifying thematic grace.