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The Saddest Music in the World

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Canada · 2003
Rated R · 1h 40m
Director Guy Maddin
Starring Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox
Genre Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Music

In 1930s Winnipeg, Canada, amputee baroness Lady Port-Huntley organizes a competition offering $25,000 to the person who can compose the saddest music in the world. Musicians -- including a depressed Broadway producer, his guilt-stricken father and a Serbian cellist -- flock to Winnipeg with the hope that they will be the best at conveying tragedy and grief in their music.

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Film Threat by

Insanely inventive and brimming with exceptional performances, The Saddest Music in the World is as audacious as it is entertaining.


Variety by 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 cacophonous eccentricity.


Village Voice by J. Hoberman

Because everything is funny and nothing provides a punchline, audiences may be too shell-shocked to laugh--you know you're in Maddinville when individual cackles detonate at unexpected intervals.


The Hollywood Reporter by Kirk Honeycutt

This exercise in style and tongue-in-cheek melodrama from Canada's iconoclastic Guy Maddin will be lionized by admirers for its audacity, but will wear thin for many audience members, who will find it tedious and repetitive.


Entertainment Weekly by Lisa Schwarzbaum

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.


Time by Richard Corliss

In a movie age when there's hardly a garde, let alone an avant-garde, Maddin proves there are many languages to cinema, including the dead one of antique film. And in that language, he sings, he soars.

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