The Violin

Director: Francesco Vargas Quevedo

Mexico| 2006. Subtitled. Black and white. Dolby Digital Stereo. 98 min

The old saying that music can soothe the savage beast is both celebrated and challenged in The Violin, the finely crafted writing-directing debut of Mexican film-maker Francisco Vargas Quevedo. This stark but absorbing drama follows an aging musician, beautifully played by Don Angel Tavira, who fiddles his way into the front lines of Mexico’s peasant revolts during the 1970s.
The Violin gets its ugliest moment out of the way at the outset—a brutal scene in which military officials interrogate and then torture a handful of tied-up villagers. The action segues abruptly to elderly farmer Don Plutarco (Tavira), son Genaro (Gerardo Taracena) and grandson Lucio (Mario Garibaldi), who scrape together a living as traveling musicians by day (Plutarco plays the violin, Genaro the guitar). By night, they secretly amass resources for the peasant guerrilla movement stirring in the Guerrero region, intent on overthrowing the country’s cruel regime. The non-professional cast is uniformly strong, but Tavira inspires real affection with his enormously dignified, mildly dyspeptic characterisation. Tavira’s creation of a mischievously heroic figure disguised as a harmless-looking old man is the tale’s chief satisfaction.—Justin Chang/’Variety’.

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