Screen Media Films | Release Date: September 14, 2018
7.5
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Generally favorable reviews based on 6 Ratings
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8
TVJerrySep 30, 2018
Julianne Moore plays a famous soprano who ends up a hostage when she travels to a South American country to give a private concert. Bonds develop while in captivity, including hers with a rich Japanese businessman (Ken Watanabe). There areJulianne Moore plays a famous soprano who ends up a hostage when she travels to a South American country to give a private concert. Bonds develop while in captivity, including hers with a rich Japanese businessman (Ken Watanabe). There are several subplots that were probably explored more deeply in the novel, but the premise still develops with sensitive storytelling and compelling performances, exploring common humanity with some interesting developments along the way. Incidentally, Moore is lip synching to Renée Fleming's voice and although she looks credible, it sound doesn't like it's coming from her. Expand
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9
qNov 15, 2018
I very much enjoyed "Bel Canto," although I quickly realized it lacks the mass-market appeal of movies that open on multiple screens at a cineplex. Instead of attempting to blow away the audience by all manner of special effects and franticI very much enjoyed "Bel Canto," although I quickly realized it lacks the mass-market appeal of movies that open on multiple screens at a cineplex. Instead of attempting to blow away the audience by all manner of special effects and frantic pacing, it tells an interesting--perhaps quirky--story involving a large ensemble of interesting--definitely quirky--characters. It explores a phenomenon called Stockholm Syndrome, in which captives eventually begin to sympathize with and even support the people who take them hostage. The plot occasionally strains credibility, but the many reviews I read of the movie universally observe that the movie is quite faithful to the novel on which it is based. I was able to identify Renee Fleming's voice as the one being used for the soundtrack before I had it confirmed by the reviews that is was she providing the lovely singing. Multiple languages are spoken in the dialogue, but the English subtitles ably assist the viewer. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie despite the critics' lukewarm response to it. Expand
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4
SaraClementsOct 15, 2018
Based on the novel by Ann Patchett – loosely based on the 1996 Peruvian Japanese Embassy Hostage Crisis – Bel Canto is an unusual love story that follows opera star Roxane Cross (Julianne Moore) who travels to an unnamed country in SouthBased on the novel by Ann Patchett – loosely based on the 1996 Peruvian Japanese Embassy Hostage Crisis – Bel Canto is an unusual love story that follows opera star Roxane Cross (Julianne Moore) who travels to an unnamed country in South America to perform at a private concert for Katsumi Hosokawa (Ken Watanabe), a Japanese industrialist looking for an economical place in the continent to build a factory. In the midst of this display of wealth, extravagance, and cultural imagery, the gathering is interrupted by a rebel group who mistakenly believe that the president of the nation is at the party. What ensues is a month-long standoff between the group and the hostages, as the group demands the release of their imprisoned comrades.

The hostages make up a diverse group. Apart from Roxane and Katsumi, the group includes, among others, French Ambassador Thibault (Christopher Lambert), Katsumi’s faithful translator Gen Watanabe (Ryo Kase ), and Russian trade delegate Fyorodov (Olek Krupa). Their only contact to the outside world is through Red Cross negotiator Joachim Messner (Sebastian Koch). Despite the hostages and captors speaking in various different languages, they begin to understand each other, partially thanks to Gen’s translation, resulting in director, Paul Weitz, turning this prison into a haven where social status and elitism is erased. Roxane’s music is also used as a communicative tool between the captors/hostages and the outside world, with the captors using her voice to lower tensions between them and local authorities.

While the Japanese hostage crisis was a bloodbath, Weitz takes a more dramatic, and less violent approach. In the midst of threats and tension, unexpected bonds between the captors and the hostages are formed. The tone of the narrative at the beginning of the film is quickly turned light as the film attempts to shift into a kind of love story. Somehow with all the tension and guns waving in their face, Roxane and Katsumi fall in love and share moments of intimacy, which in most circumstances would seem lovely, but are out of place here. What’s more strange is Gen falling in love with one of the rebels and vice versa. And after a month of captivity, the hostages and rebels play a game of soccer like they are a group of friends on the school field. The narrative tries hard to demonstrate the humanity of the captors, as though it’s attempting to make the audience fall into the hostages’ shoes by also sympathizing with the captors; to feel the Stockholm Syndrome the hostages are clearly experiencing in order to reduce the severity of the reality of the horrible real-life story.

Because the cast of characters is so long, the development and background of each aren’t fully realized, and they end up underused. Even Moore, one of the most accomplished dramatic actress, doesn’t get much to do here other than lip-sync some opera. Bel Canto tries to seem ambitious in its narrative, but turns into a tonal mishmash whose success, ultimately, lies with the viewer.
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