The Saddest Music in the World

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Released 2003

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Movie Summary

Director:
Guy Maddin
Released:
2003
Rating:
R
It?s 1933 in Winnipeg and the Great Depression is in full bloom. Beer Baroness Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini) announces a global competition to determine the saddest music in the world, and musicians from across the globe pour into town to vie for the whopping $25,000 prize. Sobbing Mexican Mariachis, dour Scottish Bagpipers, woeful West African drummers and numerous other grief-stricken ensembles give it their all. Down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Chester Kent (Mark McKinney) and his amnesiac girlfriend Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) return home to his native Winnipeg as the United States entry in the contest. He soon finds himself embroiled in a family reunion as treacherous and twisted as the competition itself. Ultimately, a cataclysmic fire and the machinations of fate sort matters out for the sad characters and the denizens of the saddest city on earth. Part musical melodrama, part tongue-in-cheek social satire, Guy Madden?s expressionistic indie from IFC achieves a level of lunacy rarely seen since the Marx Brothers.

Metacritic Score

  • 90

    Los Angeles Times Manohla Dargis

    It's all terribly tortured, often laugh-out-loud, absurdly funny and, as with all of Maddin's movies, conveyed through images that are as lush and beautifully over the top as the s...

  • 80

    The New York Times Dana Stevens

    Like most great musicals, though, this one slides, with breathtaking ease, from silliness to pathos and freely mixes exquisiteness and absurdity.

  • 70

    Variety David Rooney

    Almost as much an art piece as a film, this playful Prohibition-era tale is visually inventive and initially amusing but, at feature length, becomes somewhat wearing in its cacopho...

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    Categories

    Arts, Drama, Music

    Themes

    Musicals