Red Violin, The

Rated 4.0 Director Francois Girard and co-writer Don McKellar trace the history of an exquisite violin from its creation in Italy in 1681 to the present day, journeying back and forth in time against the background of an auction in Paris, where descendants of the instrument’s different owners over the centuries bid to retain or regain it. The film is a quiet epic—part mystery, part ghost story, part historical tour, with a skillful final twist at the fadeout—and we find ourselves seduced by the violin much as the characters are, unable to say for sure whether it is blessed or cursed. The framing story, with Samuel L. Jackson as an investigator, is the strongest; the weakest features Jason Flemyng as a 19th century English virtuoso who for some reason likes to play while having sex (don’t try this at home!).