The Red Violin review

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François Girard's latest is nothing if not ambitious. Filmed in five languages and five countries, The Red Violin charts the history of a unique musical instrument over 300 years.

Cutting back and forth from a present-day auction in Montreal, where an American expert (Samuel L Jackson) tries to determine if the instrument is Bussotti's original Red Violin, Girard offers stories exploring the object's past. As is so often the case with portmanteau movies, the segments are not equally satisfying; the worst section is the English one, in which Jason Flemyng and Greta Scacchi overact shamelessly. Far more involving are the tales set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the final episode, which at least offers a tense climax.

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