Saddest Music in the World

I had the privilege of seeing Guy Maddin’s Saddest Music in the World last night. Set in the Great Depression in Winnipeg, Manitoba (that’s Canada), the movie forges odd familial relationships among odd characters who are witness to the oddest pairings of national musics. In her seach for the saddest music of the countries of the world, Isabella Rosselini, a beer baronness, plays the beautiful Lady Port-Huntley and looks 20 years younger thanks to the tremendously fat grains of the film’s raw, physical texture.
This is the most linear of Maddin’s films, perhaps because it’s based on a story by Kazuo Ishiguro and not by Maddin and his Winterpeg knights in white armor. The film gets away with a huge amount of conceit because it’s both funny and sad and takes itself only serious enough to convince you that this is a movie of beauty. The funniest part of the film is the loud gong heard during the musical match-offs between countries like Siam and Mexico or Canada and the United States. (Canada is eliminated early on.) The gong sounds like it was clipped from a WWF procession, taped on top of the soundtrack, and the volume then turned to “11.”
Maddin’s one of my favorite directors in the world.

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