film re­view

NOW Magazine - - MOVIES -

BEL CANTO (Paul Weitz) is set in an un­named Latin Amer­i­can na­tion in the late 90s, as guer­rilla fighters storm an am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence, tak­ing a Ja­panese in­dus­tri­al­ist (Ken Watan­abe) and an Amer­i­can opera singer (Juli- anne Moore, singing with the voice of Renée Flem­ing) hostage along with the staff and a hand­ful of dig­ni­taries. Adapt­ing Ann Patch­ett’s 2001 novel (which was in­spired by an ac­tual in­ci­dent in Peru), di­rec­tor/co-writer Weitz (Grandma, Ad­mis­sion) plays up the ab­sur­dity of the sit­u­a­tion, jug­gling scenes in a mul­ti­plic­ity of lan­guages as char­ac­ters strug­gle to make them­selves un­der­stood in or­der to pre­vent mis­un­der­stand­ings from es­ca­lat­ing into vi­o­lence… while Moore and Watan­abe con­jure a ma­ture, sim­patico un­der­stand­ing that makes di­a­logue seem al­most un­nec­es­sary. The mid­sec­tion gets a lit­tle static, and view­ers may be in­clined to share the frus­tra­tion of the UN ne­go­tia­tor (Se­bas­tian Koch) at the lack of nar­ra­tive progress. But that’s a nec­es­sary evil for this kind of story. Stick with Bel Canto, and you’ll find it knows ex­actly what it’s do­ing. 101 min. Some sub­ti­tles. NNN (Nor­man Wil­ner)

Ken Watan­abe and Ju­lianne Moore act in har­mony in Bel Canto.

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