Mixed or average reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Eric Harrison
    While it's possible to view this movie like a short-story collection, putting check marks beside the selections one likes best, to do so would deny the pleasure of experiencing this beautifully crafted, intricately designed story the way it was intended, as an organic whole. [11 June 1999, Calendar, p.F-8]
  2. 88
    There really is a little something here for everyone: music and culture, politics and passion, crime and intrigue, history and even the backstage intrigue of the auction business.
  3. Some will say this film is overly ambitious, but what the hell. The man put five years of his life into making this epic mystery. We can surely give it two hours of ours.
  4. Reviewed by: Caren Weiner Campbell
    Carefully crafted, lushly romantic.
  5. Reviewed by: Edvins Beitiks
    Beautiful. Simply, beautiful.
  6. 75
    The ensemble cast is diverse and accomplished, but, because of the time constraints, no one has enough time to register much of a positive or negative impression.
  7. Girard invests each episode of this production with dramatic credibility and emotional strength.
  8. 75
    Although not all of the movements are fleshed out to their full potential, The Red Violin still attains a certain symphonic grandeur that -- at a time when so many filmmakers are churning out cinematic ditties -- deserves to be applauded. [18 June 1999, Friday, p.A]
  9. 70
    It's unlikely that anyone will be bored. But it's just as unlikely that anyone will be swept off his feet either.
  10. 70
    As pleasant stimulation for the eye and ear, it's two hours of sumptuousness, but anyone looking for more won't find it here.
  11. The plot's larcenous resolution is something of a cheat, tying things up dramatically if unethically.
  12. 60
    Audaciously conceived, yet at times curiously flat, at others incongruously prosaic in its emotional tone.
  13. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    These stories, alas, are utterly predictable. Still, Samuel L. Jackson breaks through the crust of cliches as an expert called in to verify the instrument's provenance, and violinist Joshua Bell plays and Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts John Corigliano's score ravishingly.
  14. Wants to make a grand statement about the mystical power (both celestial and demonic) of great music. But give or take some scattered musical moments, the frame in which that message is couched is too kitschy to let that vision catch fire.
  15. 50
    It's almost as lame-brained as any Hollywood blockbuster, if prettier and more pretentious.
  16. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    Fails on a number of counts, mostly because the individual stories aren't very gripping.
  17. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Almost by himself, Jackson transforms the film's final chapter into a serviceable view -- faint praise, perhaps, but a crumb to savor, given what has come before. [11 June 1999, Life, p. 6E]
  18. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    Girard and his collaborators are so focused on the stunning tableaux that all other considerations fall by the wayside, leaving their visual achievements -- miraculous on such a small budget -- mired in the elaborate but maladroit storytelling.
  19. 50
    The filmmakers have created a pretentious extended "Twilight Zone" episode with obscenely high production values.
  20. 40
    It sustains its purplish, epic sweep by thrusting broadly etched characters into extravagantly hokey situations, and registers mainly as a flamboyant joke.
  21. 40
    There's no denying the fact that Jackson is woefully miscast here, and as a result spends much of his time struggling to define his role as a “serious” collector of objets d'art in this muddled-though-gorgeous omnibus film.
  22. 30
    The style of the movie veers unsuccessfully between humorless piety and opéra-bouffe clownishness.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Jun 8, 2014
    This movie may no doubt be spectacular to violin fanatics or those who can appreciate extensive periods of violin solos, but for the averageThis movie may no doubt be spectacular to violin fanatics or those who can appreciate extensive periods of violin solos, but for the average viewer these moments are too numerous and repetitive and frankly boring. The ending is also poor, but overall (despite overdoing the musical scenes) it is a watchable movie. Could have been shorter though. 4/10 Full Review »
  2. AaronP.
    Jun 10, 2007
    I'm not sure why the critics of this movie don't like a story about a violin, and want it to be rewritten as a story about love and I'm not sure why the critics of this movie don't like a story about a violin, and want it to be rewritten as a story about love and romance. This is a perfect instrument, born from the passion of a master craftsman and the blood of his sacrifice. People possess and lose it in the course of their lives, marking them and marking the violin. If you want action, adventure, and witty dialogue, go watch SpiderMan...if you want a Buddhist-like story of transcendence and meaning, this movie might be for you. Full Review »