2003 dramatic comedy
Rating: 16/20Plot: It's 1933 in Canada, and a legless woman has hopes of selling lots of beer. A contest to see which country has the saddest song is announced, and hopefuls flock to Winnipeg to induce tears and try to win 25,000 depression dollars. A World War I veteran and his two sons are reunited as they represent Canada, the United States, and Serbia in the contest. The father longs for the legless woman, a woman whose legs he amputated (one by mistake) following a car accident. One son happened to be driving that car, wrecking after the beer baroness was through pleasuring him orally. The other son mopes around because his wife disappeared after the death of their son. He carries that son's heart in a jar and whines a lot. The countries have their battle of the bands, the winners receiving a thumbs-up from the host before taking a slide into a giant tub of beer. Happily, the beer baroness gets a new pair of legs fashioned entirely from glass and filled with beer. Unhappily, the father and sons find it difficult to discover happiness in their attempts to produce sad tunes.
It's all about the images, the tone, and the texture with this one. Guy Maddin pays homage to the silent era with his films, filming this one with ancient equipment and forgotten techniques, mixing fuzzy black and white with tempered color scenes and blueish or sepia tones. The result is startling, and along with a jarring soundtrack and perverse camera angles and oddly rich and rhythmic backgrounds, this manages to remind you of Metropolis and exist as something entirely new at the same time. This forces you to watch carefully, sucking you in with absorbing imagery and constructing this odd little dreamlike world around you. There are some campy moments, but the dark humor and quick pacing make this something that I almost want to immediately watch again. I've only previously seen one other Maddin movie (Tales from Gimli Hospital which, after reading my notes, I didn't seem to get), and this retains the weirdness and personal filmmaking touches but has lots more story. Nobody makes movies as ridiculous and ridiculously beautiful as The Saddest Music in the World. Special note: Maria de Medeiros is stunning and has the perfect face for a 1920's silent movie. I think it's the eyes.
Here I am, just as stunning: