Isabella Rossellini, The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World

Genre: Comedy, Musical; Starring: Maria De Medeiros, Mark McKinney, Isabella Rossellini, David Fox, Brent Neale; Director: Guy Maddin; Author: Kazuo Ishiguro; Runtime (in minutes): 99; MPAA Rating: Unrated

About halfway through Canadian director Guy Maddin’s latest oddity, The Saddest Music in the World, double amputee Isabella Rossellini straps on a pair of lager-filled glass legs. In some ways, it says all one needs to know about this screwy yet alluring Depression-era film, starring Rossellini as Lady Port-Huntley, a Winnipeg beer baroness who sponsors a $25,000 contest to determine which nation has the most melancholy music on earth.

Aside from the wonderfully absurd plot, Maddin’s cinematic tricks (such as Vaseline-smeared lenses and rear-projection screens) strengthen the energetic performances of Rossellini and Kids in the Hall’s Mark McKinney, whose Broadway producer astutely pegs America’s music as ”sadness, but with sass and pizzazz.”

EXTRAS Two humdrum making-ofs and three shorts by Maddin, one of which, the hilarious ”Sissy-Boy Slap-Party,” features effeminate sailors walloping each other.

Originally posted November 16 2004 — 12:00 AM EST

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