Combustible Celluloid
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With: Angel Tavira, Gerardo Taracena, Dagoberto Gama, Mario Garibaldi, Fermin Martinez, Silverio Palacios, Octavio Castro, Mercedes Hernandez, Gerardo Juarez
Written by: Francisco Vargas
Directed by: Francisco Vargas
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Running Time: 98
Date: 03/11/2005

The Violin (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

String Shifts

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Coming in on the curl of a much-discussed Mexican New Wave, Francisco Vargas makes a marvelous debut with his magnificent The Violin, set in the 1970s. Don Plutarco (Don Angel Tavira) can only play by strapping his bow to his handless stump, while his Guerrilla son fights a secret battle against the ruling military regime. Plutarco winds up serenading a sensitive (but still sinister) Captain, helping his son the best he can. Vargas shoots in luscious black-and-white, switching between hand-held for tension and smooth, still shots for breathtaking rest periods. In one amazing sequence, Plutarco sits by a campfire and explains the origin of war to his grandson while Vargas slowly, slowly tracks over smoldering coals. But it's Tavira's gaping, withered face that gives the movie its mileage. He's 81, and it's his first job of acting; how's that for a debut?

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