Directed by: Francisco Vargas
Starring: Ángel Tavira, Gerardo Taracena, Dagoberto Gama, Mario Garibaldi
Francisco Vargas’ The Violin (2005) is a good, but by no means great, little movie of the kind specialized in by a company called Film Movement, which picks up films that have received accolades on the lower and mid-level festival circuit — good movies often times, but ones lacking that “something” that gets them picked up by one of the art/indie distributors. This one — about repressed Mexican peasants trying to take on the powers that be — has an interesting hook in the idea of the elderly violinist (Angel Tavira) smuggling ammunition past the oppressors in his violin case. This, in fact — along with the strong performance from the 81-year-old Tavira in his film debut as the violinist — is what makes the film a cut above. In most other regards, this is a curious work that only sometimes works. Its black and white photography is often stunning to look at, and the fact that it tends to resemble one of those old agrarian-leaning Soviet propaganda pictures gives it a distinctive identity. But the decision to include things like a brutal depiction of a rape and other similar bits is somehow jarringly at odds with the tone of the rest of the film. It is this inconsistent tone that keeps The Violin on the far side of greatness.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Violin Friday, Oct. 11, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
In Brief: The Mexican film The Violin (2005) is one of those movies that comes with a raft of awards from film festivals, largely enthusiastic reviews and almost no promotion. Its much lauded director, Francisco Vargas, has yet to make another film, and it seems to be one of those dead-end projects destined to obscurity. That’s too bad, because this great looking little movie about an old man systematically smuggling ammunition in his violin case to a rebel group has much to recommend it.