The Violin

This deceptively simple, absorbing tale from Mexico follows a crafty old farmer and violinist named Plutarco (Don Angel Tavira) as he becomes embroiled in a civil war involving government troops who've been sent to crush a local guerrilla insurrection. Performing in bars and cafes with his grandson, he largely avoids the conflict until the military destroys his village and arrests members of his family, after which he starts secretly helping the guerrillas by using his violin to smuggle ammunition. Writer-director Francisco Vargas wisely strips the story of sentimentality and melodrama, creating a stark narrative that's reflective and at times surprisingly suspenseful. His use of both professional and nonprofessional actors contributes to the gritty realism. In Spanish with subtitles. 99 min.

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