The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World (2003) movie poster

(2003) dir. Guy Maddin
viewed: 04/15/07

The concept of this movie seemed kind of interesting.  Isabella Rossellini is a legless but always gorgeous beer queen in Winnipeg during the Depression who invites representatives of all countries to come for a contest  for who can create The Saddest Music in the World.  While there is a lot of poeticism in this concept, it’s also played for hilarity and bizarreness.  But it had stayed in mind and I thought I would give it a whirl.

It’s shot in a steady mostly black and white, faux early cinema style, with odd movement, grainyness and masking.  Even this style is fairly taxing and put on. It certainly has a style, one that doesn’t necessarily exude quality. I haven’t read about the ways that he created this effect, but it was pretentious and didn’t play that well for me.

There is a lot of interesting stuff in here, though, maybe mostly images, like the beer-filled glass legs that Rossellini dons as a gift.

I don’t know.  Maybe this whole thing will sink in differently over time.  I didn’t dig the visual style or the tone exactly.  The whole thing kind of annoyed me, to be honest.  I used to really like Mark McKinney in The Kids in the Hall, but for some reason he just annoyed me in this film.  A lot of it just didn’t work.

There was some weird Canadian-ness to this film, and an analysis of place and country identity with each country played for stereotypical dress and music.  And an unsurprising anti-American-ness exemplified by McKinney’s adoption of the country as its representative and his Hollywoodization and commoditization of the whole process.  This was sort of interesting, but I didn’t get it completely either.

I guess that is the theme of this entry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.