VIFF 2019 | 'The Song Of Names' Movie Review
Early on in The Song of Names, there’s a moment in a bomb shelter when 13 year old Dovidl, violin “genius”, pulls out his violin and begins showing off his talent. Across the bunker, a young mature man does the same, and the two musicians begin an improvised dueling of strings. It’s magnificent sequence, but from there, excessive melodrama increasingly overshadows the indications of greatness the film begins with.
The Song of Names toggles between the active timeline of middle-aged Martin (Tim Roth) searching for Dovidl (Clive Owen) and two periods in these adoptive brothers’ youth. As Martin desperately attempts to find Dovidl, flashbacks walk audiences through the boys’ development as musicians and as friends. Eventually, the more Martin learns about Dovidl’s disappearance, the more he understands just how deeply WWII impacted Dovidl’s worldview.
The film is at it’s best when music is being played, including an exquisite finale concert performance. And the chemistry between Luke Doyle and Misha Handley, the youngest portrayals of Davidl and Martin, establishes a beautiful sibling-like relationship.
But the further the film ages the kids out of adolescence, the less interesting the film becomes. The Song of Names can be haunting and captivating at times, but both are fleeting. And sadly, there comes a point in the film where it seems to be more interested in reaching a revelation than appreciating the journey there. In turn, audiences may eventually find themselves wanting to fast forward through that journey as well.
Acting and Casting - 2 | Visual Effects and Editing - 1 | Story and Message - 0 | Entertainment Value - 1 | Music Score and Soundtrack - 2 | Reviewer's Preference - 0 | What does this mean?