The Saddest Music In The World (2003)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5

Canada, 2003.   Rhombus Media, Buffalo Gal Pictures, Ego Film Arts, Bravo! Television, Movie Central, Corus, Téléfilm Canada, The Movie Network, Super Écran, Manitoba Film & Sound, Astral Media, Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, Channel 4 Television Corporation.   Screenplay by , Guy Maddin, based on a screenplay by .  Cinematography by .Produced by , .   Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

In Depression-era Winnipeg, the rich owner of a beer factory (Isabella Rossellini) devises a grand scheme to promote sales of her drink: she will hold an international contest where each country will present its folk music and her judgment will determine which nation has the saddest music in the world. First prize is $25,000, so the contest attracts people from around the globe, including Rossellini’s old flame (), against whom she still bears a grudge for his part in the car accident that claimed both her legs. Avant garde filmmaker Guy Maddin has finally made a film where his spectacular visuals don’t overpower the story; or, perhaps at points they do, but they at least don’t render the substance void as they often do in his other features. Filmed in grainy black and white and using a retro, jarring style of editing, the film delightfully recalls old films of the early sound days with its curious characters and hopelessly melodramatic dialogue. The music selection is the film’s most enjoyable element, particularly when a Dietrich-esque kicks up her heels and sings an old movie tune in her representation of the American team. The film’s purposely false sentimentality will make it pointless to some and humorous to others, but either way it’s a fun trifle that doesn’t really make too huge an impression. You will, however, love the sight of Rossellini standing on glass legs that are filled with beer!

Toronto International Film Festival:  2003


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