Thursday, April 15, 2010

El Violin (The Violin)

In El Violin, we meet Don Plutarco, a violinist, and his son and grandson, to whom he has passed a musical gift.  When they're not scratching out a living on the side of some little hill at a tiny village in the Mexican or Central American countryside, they go into town to play their instruments for passersby.  But they're not just simple street musicians or peasant farmers; they're rebels, involved in a resistance movement against the oppressive government.  One day while they were away in town, the oppression came to their village in a military wave of destruction, rape, and murder.
Using his musical gifts and playing on his elderly, simple appearance, Plutarco infiltrates the occupying troops at the village in an attempt to aid the rebels.  Angel Tavira, a professional violinist, puts on a great performance as Plutarco.  In fact, he won the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2005 for this performance.  In the movie, he straps the bow to the stump of his right hand.  I thought this was part of the character, which helped him seem more helpless to the army.  But he is missing that hand in real life, and has played like that for years.

El Violin is simply shot in stark black and white, giving it a classic feel.  The pacing is slower than your typical war/action movie, which this story certainly could lend itself to, but the focus is more on the characters than the actors.  This is a good little movie, thoroughly enjoyable with great performances, but not super memorable.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

One additional note: this move is part of the Film Movement series, which works sort of like the Book of the Month club, where they send a new movie each month.  These are independent, foreign, and/or low-budget films, which have typically not been released in theaters but have played at festivals to acclaim.  The Fort Worth Library has a bunch of them, so you'll get to hear about more of them here in the near future.

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