El Violin (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/01/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 minutes

Despite a slow start, this is a beautifully shot, impressively directed and ultimately moving drama with a superb central performance from non-professional actor Don Angel Tavira.

What's it all about?
Adapted from an earlier short film and set during the Mexican peasant revolts of the 1970s, El Violin is written and directed by Francisco Vargas Quevedo. It stars non-professional actor Don Angel Tavira as Don Plutarco Hidalgo, an old, one-handed violinist who performs in the local towns with his guitarist son Genaro (Gerardo Taracena) and grandson Lucio (Mario Garibaldi).

However, it soon transpires that Genaro is involved with a guerilla group and that their village has been occupied by a group of brutal soldiers. While Genaro tries to come up with a scheme for retrieving valuable ammunition from a hiding place in the village, Don Plutarco attempts a plan of his own, by playing his violin to the camp's Captain (Dagoberto Gama) in the hopes of gaining his trust.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Don Angel Tavira, who won an award in Cannes for his work here. There's also strong support from both Gerardo Taracena and Dagoberto Gama, who has a terrific, briefly humanising scene where he explains his love of music to Plutarco.

The film is beautifully shot with crystal clear black and white images that make every frame look as if it deserves pride of place in a photography exhibit. The film also uses music to impressive and frequently emotional effect, from Plutarco's one-handed violin playing to the climactic story-telling folk song sung by Lucio.

The Great
The film takes a while to get going and occasionally moves as slowly as the donkey that Plutarco rides in and out of the occupied village, but this ultimately serves to ratchet up the tension to surprisingly high levels.

Worth seeing?
In short, El Violin is a beautifully shot, superbly acted and ultimately rewarding film that deserves to be seen. Recommended.

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Content updated: 22/03/2019 20:03

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