The Saddest Music in the World Hard to say who's luckier -- those who have seen the work of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin before and know what to expect, or those… The Saddest Music in the World Hard to say who's luckier -- those who have seen the work of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin before and know what to expect, or those… 2004-04-30 Unrated PT99M Comedy Musical Maria De Medeiros Mark McKinney Isabella Rossellini David Fox Brent Neale IFC Films
Movie Review

The Saddest Music in the World (2004)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Isabella Rossellini, The Saddest Music in the World | 'SADDEST MUSIC' AWARD GOES TO... Kenny G should win. Or polka. No, definitely Kenny G.
'SADDEST MUSIC' AWARD GOES TO... Kenny G should win. Or polka. No, definitely Kenny G.
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Limited Release: Apr 30, 2004; Rated: Unrated; Length: 99 Minutes; Genres: Comedy, Musical; With: Maria De Medeiros, Mark McKinney and Isabella Rossellini; Distributor: IFC Films

Hard to say who's luckier -- those who have seen the work of Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin before and know what to expect, or those who haven't and for whom The Saddest Music in the World serves as an eye-popping introduction. Familiars can rest assured that the singular, Winnipeg-rooted Maddin is up to his usual wiles, creating a phantasmagorical melodrama with a visual style meticulously refracted through a black-and-white German expressionist sensibility, singed with camp and embroidered with Dada. Unfamiliars can abandon themselves to the gorgeous obsessions of this sad, mad story: that of a bitter, legless beer baroness (Isabella Rossellini, every auteur's best ally) in frigid Depression-era Winnipeg, who stages a kind of musical Olympics for the country that can evoke the gloomiest tune. (The original screenplay is by Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro.)

Before the sobbing is through, enhanced by haunting musical variations on the warbler ''The Song Is You,'' a sleazy Broadway producer (Mark McKinney) will have reunited with his father (David Fox) and brother (Ross McMillan); an amnesiac nymphomaniac (Maria de Medeiros) will have remembered something inconvenient; and the limb- deficient baroness will have been outfitted with glass legs filled with beer. And each frame of Maddin's saga will have yielded a memory of cinemania past, even for those with no clear memory of the old movies that echo in this alluring new one.

Originally posted Apr 28, 2004 Published in issue #764 May 07, 2004 Order article reprints
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