Take a Drink: whenever Jared Harris says something… devilish
Take a Drink: for each performance
Take a Drink: whenever Watson gets screwed over
Take a Drink: for prostitutes
Do a Shot: for David Garrett’s sad puppy dog face
By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
Bernard Rose has had a bit of a bizarre career. Roger Ebert highly touted his Paperhouse when he was first starting out, and he used this cachet to make a few high-profile, if not universally praised period pieces in Immortal Beloved and Anna Karenina. After the troubles of the latter, he seemed to fall off the map, but he never stopped working.
If this counts as working…
Now, after years of mixing anonymous director for hire gigs (Mr. Nice) with sad echos of his prestige pic past (The Kreutzer Sonata), he’s returned to the latter with The Devil’s Violinist. Paganini (David Garrett) is an insanely talented violinist but isn’t getting the recognition he feels his talents merit. This changes, though, when he enters into a contract with an *ahem* devilish sort of fellow (Jared Harris). Fame, fortune, and what might be love with a young singer (Andrea Deck) follow.
If you follow know contemporary classical music, you know David Garrett, one of the world’s premiere violinists since he was a teenager, and he really shows off that talent here. Acting talent.. we’ll get to that. Deck is good, or at least too good for this movie, and Harris clearly gives zero fucks, chewing scenery with gusto.
Serve you in the afterlife, you say? Sounds legit.
I’m not sure what the script is going for here. Faustian drama, dark comedy, biopic, penny dreadful, Amadeus… but whatever it’s going for, it fails enormously. What’s left is a half-baked mishmash of incompatible ingredients and staggeringly awful lines like, “I just want to know.. are these hands touched by an angel… or the Devil?”
The big reason they’re incompatible is, just like Rose’s career, they waver between highbrow (I’m making a searing drama about a historical figure!) and lowbrow (Moriarty is the Devil or something, plus bewbs!)
David Garrett looks like the image Tommy Wiseau has in his mind of himself, and sounds exactly the same His acting talent is roughly equal, too.
“Oh hi…. Mark” *panties moisten*
The costuming and production design isn’t bad, but it’s too clean, too stagey and obviously brand-new, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they weren’t shot so unflatteringly by Rose’s (he did his own shooting) flat, ugly digital cinematography.
Ebert once said about Rose’s Paperhouse, “This is not a movie to be measured and weighed and plumbed, but to be surrendered to.” Watching The Devil’s Violinist after reading that is just depressing.