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The Saddest Music in the World
The dark days of the Depression set the stage for surreal black comedy in this "intoxicating" (Time) musical melodrama from acclaimed director Guy Maddin. When a legless beer baroness (Isabella Rossellini) in Winnipeg announces a contest to find the world's saddest tune, a pint of trouble brews among a fractured family competing for the $25,000 prize. As the disturbing depths of the linksbetween each other, the baroness and an amnesiac nymphomaniac are exposed, one thing becomes clear:It will take more than a pool of alcohol to drown their sorrows!
Only the mind of Guy Maddin could conjure up The Saddest Music in the World, in which a double-amputee beer baroness invites musicians of all nations to compete in a grand music competition... in Winnipeg. The only thing zanier than the plot is Maddin's style, which makes the film look like a lost artifact from the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari era, a jumble of Expressionist compositions and gauzy focus. It helps if you're already a fan of the director of Careful and Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, for this is not Maddin's most cohesive picture. Kids in the Hall stalwart Mark McKinney is a little too arch as a sharpie returning to Manitoba, but Isabella Rossellini is delicious as the "Beer Queen of the Prairie." By the time she straps on a pair of hollow glass legs filled with bubbly lager, you're either delighted by this movie or you've given up. --Robert Horton
- Three short films from Guy Maddin: A Trip to the Orphange, Sissy Boy Slap Party, Sombra Dolorosa
- "Teardrops in the Snow: The Making of The Saddest Music in the World" featurette
- "The Saddest Characters in the World: The Cast of The Saddest Music in the World" featurette
- Original theatrical trailer
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Top customer reviews
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Script: quirky and understatedly hilarious. Performances: Quirky and understatedly hilarious. Plot: Quirky and understatedly hilarious, a parody of early black and white melodrama.
All I can say is if you're thinking of watching it, check out the trailer first, and don't go into it expecting anything very similar to anything you've ever seen before, or you're bound to be disappointed.
I feel like Maddin accomplishes effortlessly the bizarre-yet-subtle hilarity that so many other independent filmmakers I've watched my whole life try desperately to force, and fail miserably (i hesitate to name names because I know we all like different filmmakers for different reasons, but after watching Jarmusch movies all my life and thinking they were almost-but-not-quite-really-good, when I recently discovered Maddin's body of work, I quickly came to the conclusion that Jarmusch is just a poor man's Guy Maddin, and let's face it, Jarmusch hasn't had anything remotely interesting or original since Dead Man, and even that was mediocre like all his movies that went before, there I said it, although the comparison may not be really quite fair since they may not be trying to accomplish the same things/evoke the same mood).
Anyway, I personally loved this movie so much that I own it for frequent and repeated viewing (and even quote it almost constantly at odd and inappropriate moments, because it's just that fun!), but it definitely won't appeal to everybody.
If you're sad, and like beer, I'm your lady.
I'm not an American; I'm a nymphomaniac.
Get up, get your boots on, hurryuphurryup, time's a wastin' if you're not tastin' Lady Port Huntley's Beer!
Isabella Rossellini plays the role of the clever and tragic Lady Helen Port-Hunsley, a wealthy Canadian beer baroness who launches a world competition seeking the most melancholy music on the globe, as she endeavors to dramatically increase beer sales at the tail end of America's failed experiment of Prohibition. The purse is a huge twenty-five-thousand-dollar award that brings forth competitors from as far away as Scotland, Serbia and Siam. The main protagonist in the film emerges as the cynical Chester Kent (Mark McKinney), in contention with his brother, Roderick as Gavrillo the Great, and others in this great rivalry, where winners in each round slide into a giant vat of beer.
Twists and turns of emotion fill the plot, pulling you from humor to tragedy within a framework of grandeur and the absurd. As bygone secrets unravel, Fyodor, father of Chester and Roderick, attempts to exonerate his past guilt by fashioning glass legs filled with beer for Helen, his former lover, and the victim of an accidental amputation.
For those who appreciate imagination and avant-garde expressionism, Saddest Music is nourishment for the senses.