Cinema: The Red Violin

Directed by Francois Girard

This is an anthology film, tracing the history of the eponymous instrument from its creation in the 17th century to its predictable fate as--what else?--the centerpiece of frantic bidding in an auction in our own time. The violin is, at various points, owned by a monastery, a child prodigy and a victim of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. These stories, alas, are utterly predictable. Still, Samuel L. Jackson breaks through the crust of cliches as an expert called in to verify the instrument's provenance, and violinist Joshua Bell plays and Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts John Corigliano's score ravishingly.

--R.S.

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