bel canto

★★★

DIRECTOR: paul weitz (american pie, about a boy)
STARRING: julianne moore, ken watanabe, sebastian koch and ryo kase

 

REVIEWER: emily carter

A world-renowned opera singer becomes trapped in a hostage situation when she's invited to perform for a wealthy industrialist in South America.

Romance, thriller, cross-cultural, hostage-situation, political, opera - Bel Canto is a confusing combination of themes that takes you on one surprising ride.

 

Bel Canto is based on Ann Patchett's best-selling novel and stars the ever-graceful and enrapturing Julianne Moore as American opera singer Roxanne Cos.

 

Roxanne travels to South America to perform at a private concert for Japanese industrialist Katsumi Hosokawa (Ken Wantanbe). Roxanne's operatic notes barely escape her lips when guerilla rebels enter the room of diplomats shooting and yelling.

 

This palatial mansion becomes the party guests' prison as hostage negotiations ensue. These unexpected housemates don't share the same language, country or culture, but can the best bits of human nature truly prevail?

 

While the themes and plot swirl and tangle in many directions, Bel Canto is undeniably intriguing. Many corners of the world collide and remind us of the things we share, rather than what tears us apart. Where the story feels flimsy, its strength lies in its sparkling cast.

 

The rebels are there for purely political purposes, but the audience is quickly pressed into the romantic strand of the story - perhaps less intriguing, and maybe even watering-down the story - but it no doubt softens those sharp edges. I'm not sure if I've watched a film that caters to so many preferences - or one that may alienate some, but I think it's main purpose is to actually bring its audience together - much like its characters.

 

The main actors show us just why they're major Hollywood stars, making up the very best parts of Bel Canto.

 

Confusing or all-encompassing, Bel Canto is an intriguing tale topped with a sparkling set of stars.

★★★

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