At Ziggy’s behest, I watched a film on the weekend called The Saddest Music in the World. He declared my fellow Canadian Guy Maddin, director and screenwriter, a genius or someone in need of intense therapy.
I can recall hearing about the film back when it debuted but it somehow managed toget pushed from my memory. Rather than be charged with dereliction of duty to hearth and home, I settled in for a look.
The picture was charmingly oddball and inventively shot. The sets were a bit small and off kilter with interesting (mostly black and white) lighting effects providing atmosphere.
At times, it looked like a play taking place in a snow globe and filtered through several tasty pints of beer. Speaking of beer, the lovely Eesa-bella Rossellini plays Lady Helen Port-Huntley who runs a tavern. She decides to host a contest in Depression era Winnipeg to find a contender from all the countries of the world that can come up with the saddest music. What she’s really doing is profiteering and presenting a plot point that will serve to introduce us to an unlikely love triangle that will propel the story forward.
It may be a little more complicated than that actually. It might or might not involve some missing legs. Oh, and now that I think about it? What's a four letter word for love triangle, one with five people? I know! M-E-S-S! Yes, mess, but it's one worth sorting out on a quiet Sunday morning.
Adding an additional layer of kook is Maria de Medeiros who I last saw driving a cab in Pulp Fiction and before that driving herself between Henry Miller and his wife in Henry & June. Mark McKinney, David Fox and Ross McMillan round out the major players in the film and they’re entertaining to watch with Fox and McMillan being particularly well used.
Music plays an expectedly wonderful role in the proceedings and the soundtrack is something I’d like to hear out of context of the film to hear how it might work.
I declare Guy Maddin an underappreciated genius and hereby reclaim my proud citizenship.