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The Song of Names (2019)

PG-13 | | Drama | 25 December 2019 (USA)
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Several years after his childhood friend, a violin prodigy, disappears on the eve of his first solo concert, an Englishman travels throughout Europe to find him.

Director:

François Girard

Writers:

Norman Lebrecht (based on the novel by), Jeffrey Caine (screenplay)
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2,294 ( 316)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Clive Owen ... Dovidl
Tim Roth ... Martin
Jonah Hauer-King ... Dovidl 17-23
Catherine McCormack ... Helen
Eddie Izzard ... Radio Presenter
Gerran Howell ... Martin 17-21
Saul Rubinek ... Feinman
Richard Bremmer ... Billy
Amy Sloan ... Enid
Julian Wadham ... Arbuthnot Bailey
Max Macmillan ... Peter Stemp
Stanley Townsend ... Gilbert
Matt Devere ... Milkman
Magdalena Cielecka ... Anna
Luke Doyle ... Dovidl 9-13
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Storyline

Several years after his childhood friend, a violin prodigy, disappears on the eve of his first solo concert, an Englishman travels throughout Europe to find him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From the Director of The Red Violin and the Academy Award Winning Composer of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language, brief sexual material, thematic elements, and smoking | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

Canada | Hungary

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Song of Names See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$39,452, 29 December 2019

Gross USA:

$503,955

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$530,888
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
a note of pain
8 January 2020 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. The title refers to a sacred Jewish ritual where the names of the Holocaust victims are recited in a musical style. It's a process that (sadly) covers a few days. In this film, it takes on a personal, as well as historical, significance. British cultural affairs expert Norman Lebrecht wrote the 2001 novel on which writer-director Francois Girard (THE RED VIOLIN, 1998, plus plays, operas and 2 Cirque de Soleil shows) and co-writer Jeffrey Caine based the film.

We open in 1951 London just minutes before the scheduled performance of young violin virtuoso Dovidl "David" Rapoport. He is to play Bruch and Bach in a concert sponsored by his "adoptive" father figure Gilbert Simmonds, who has sunk his entire life savings into producing the concert. Despite the assurances of Simmonds' son Martin, who has become like a brother to David, the featured performer is a no-show ... leading Martin to search for him over the next 35 years.

The film covers the story from the time Dovidl's Polish-Jewish father (played by Jakub Kotynski) agrees to his leave 9 year old, a violin prodigy, with the non-Jewish Simmonds in an attempt to protect the boy from the German invasion of Poland in the late 1930's. As Dovidl and Martin grow together, their bond become stronger. Martin is present when Dovidl renounces Judaism, even as becomes more proficient with his instrument and more saddened by the Holocaust that he avoided in his home country.

Both boys are played at three different ages by three different actors. Dovidl is played by Luke Doyle at ages 9-13, Jonah Hauer-King at ages 17-23, and by Clive Owen in middle age. Martin is played by Misha Handley at ages 9-13, Gerran Howell at ages 17-23, and by Tim Roth in later life. The actors do a good job of capturing Martin's early irritation at Dovidl's arrogance, the shock of the no-show betrayal, and the later in life man who changed everything when he found out about his family, as well as the music teacher so desperate to find his long lost friend/brother.

The film bounces between the three timelines so that we have a full picture of the impact they have had on each other's lives, and how Dovidl's disappearing act was quite devastating. Much of the film centers on Martin tracking down leads and talking to folks for some idea of the path taken by Dovidl. Mr. Roth is especially effective (and surprisingly understated) in his performance as a man haunted by the unexplained actions of a loved one. His wife, played by Catherine McCormick, is simultaneously understanding, patient, and emotionally affected.

Stanley Townsend plays Martin's father. He cares for Dovidl as if her were a son, and provides what's necessary for the prodigy to develop and be groomed for performance. Three-time Oscar winner Howard Shore delivers a score that follows the good times and bad, not an easy task for a family drama within the shadow of the Holocaust. One specific sequence stands out, and it is filmed on the hallowed grounds of Treblinka - now a memorial, where the extermination camp once stood.

There are many facets to the story, and most involve heavy emotions. We see children bearing more than they should. Parents protecting their children in times of crisis. The difference between religion and ethnicity is discussed. Broken trust proves especially damaging. Dovidl's disappearing act could be compared to that of JD Salinger, in that he seemingly disappeared for years. And maybe most of all, the idea of survivor's guilt is a theme, as Dovidl explains, "You don't have to be guilty to feel guilty." The film may have some pacing issues, but it affords such a wealth of conversation topics, that any flaws are easily forgiven.


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