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David Garrett’s Paganini film is ‘a washout’

January 31, 2015 by norman lebrecht

66 comments.


The German-American violinist’s biopic has just opened – to appalling reviews.

 

david garrett paganini

Variety: Providing a performance that’s so wooden and unconvincing that his director habitually cuts away from his face during dialogue — the better to mask the awkwardness of his line deliveries — Garrett proves a washout in this formulaic period piece, whose minimal commercial prospects are unlikely to extend beyond the star’s most rabid fans.

New York Times: Even if, like me, you’re a sucker for men with tossable hair and precision eyeliner, you can’t help noticing that “The Devil’s Violinist” is hysterical — and possibly historical — hooey. More bodice-ripper than biopic, this German-Austrian coproduction about the life of the Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini is so magnificently misjudged that it almost defies description.

The Hollywood Reporter: ‘This drama about famed 19th century Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini suffers from the casting of David Garrett in the lead role. While the popular violin virtuoso certainly has the musical chops and darkly handsome looks to credibly portray the early rock star musician, his wooden acting fatally sinks the project.’

And more in the same vein…

david garrett paganini2

 


Comments (66)

  1. Wet Toast says:

    The entire career has been a created one from those lousy DG recordings to this. Someone is backing him. Family $$?

    1. Jade Tavares says:

      Eu amei o filme!
      Ele foi fantástico.
      Penso que um gênio como Paga nini, não se importava com críticas. ….Por esse motivo achei perfeita a interpretação. …….especialmente o olhar dele para Charlotte!
      Apaixonante o filme. …..Embora triste!
      Essa é minha opinião!
      Eu recomendo!

  2. Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    It opened here in Germany nearly a year ago to a similarly cool reception. It did so badly at the box-office it was transferred to DVD and has been available to buy since last July. Awful film (though well made visually), and really not very good playing (wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot of sound-recording editing involved). Although a pretty (!!) good (average?) player, depending on where one’s benchmark might lie, he is unbelievably popular (especially the ladies) over here both in concert and on TV. By all accounts a very, very nice and charming man with a genuine love of music and a well educated musical background, but a rather boring wishi-washi-chici-miki image and not especially distinguished player (in my opinion, at any rate). To give him credit, he has worked very hard against some rather difficult odds (illness, etc.) to be as successful as he is.

    1. Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      ps. Terrible actor!!!! Should have known better!

      1. EDITA says:

        You are simply jealous! Men just cannot handle him, because he has so much passion in everything he touches,- violin or soul…his playing is great ! Only women can understand…

    2. Guadalupe Lindo says:

      Those backing him, as you imply, were Ida Haendel, Yitzak Perlman, Isaac Stern and Jehudi Menuhin. I guess you know better than them.

    3. lori says:

      was that your opinion of him when you were training at Julliard at the same time?:>
      or when he was clocked as the fastest violinist in the world?
      or right around the time he inspired young musicians to soar to heights they never thought they could achieve, when moved by his passion and energy?
      or at your last concert, after u reviewed ur tape and found that you had even fewer errors, played faster, and moved your audience to even higher levels of passion and joy?
      oh. THEN:>

      1. Cristal says:

        He’s no longer the fastest violinist in the world, just wanted to point that out. And fast doesn’t always mean good

        1. Galina says:

          He’s no longer the fastest violinist. Ben Lee is faster, but playing on an electric violin, not an accustic one. Ask someone who knows about it, and you’ll understand what a difference it makes.

          About his proficiency as a musician, your opinion is irrelevant when those who know better acclaim him as a musical genius.

          1. Cristal says:

            Irrelevant? Really? I hope you realise that as a violinist I’m pretty sure I “know better”. I’m aware that there are differences between acoustic and electric, but not to the point where one has a significant advantage over the other. And I never said he wasn’t good. He is in fact amazing. I just don’t like people who listen to him play really fast and automatically jump to the conclusion that he is the greatest who ever lived. There are other violinists out there who are at his level or better. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and people need to deal with it

          2. Brenda Wood says:

            It neither matters whether David Garrett is the fastest violinist who ever lived not the most capable, he is just magnificent. Listening to him only makes one want to hear more, to see and feel his passion in this love affair with the violin, with music, and with life. I am simply mesmerized by him and his music.

        2. Galina says:

          Your last comment does not allow for a reply, so I’ll reply to this one again.

          It is great to know that, being a violinist as you said, you consider him amazing; and no, I do not regard him as a great violinist because of his speed. I love his expressiveness, his preferred pitch, the way he seems to enjoy performing, his amazing arrangements, and the way he so deftly combines music of all epochs and from different origins.

          At 67, I’ve had the opportunity to listen (live) to several of the greatest violinists, among them Kreisler, Oistrack, Menuhin, Heifetz, Stern, Haendel, and Perlman, as well as great pianists of the stature of Janis and Richter. As you must be aware, musical appreciation is a matter of personal taste, and I do think Menuhin was right when he said David was “the best violinist of his generation.”

          1. Cristal says:

            I can respect that. Personally I’m more of a Sara Chang kind of girl, but I can see how you’d appreciate Garrett more. I’m reading my own comment and I see now that it can be taken as a bit rude. If you thought it was I apologize

          2. Galina says:

            Thank you for your kind reply. You were not rude at all. It is I who must apologize, for I was rude when I said your opinon was irrelevant, ignoring you too were a violinist. Sarah Chang is a great violinist, but her pitch, more akin to Oriental music, and her extreme lyricism is too much for me. Have a good day, or night, whichever is fitting for you now.

  3. Boring Fileclerk says:

    At least it will make Klaus Kinski’s bio-pic about Paganini look like a masterpiece by comparison. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098052/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1

    1. Gene Gaudette says:

      Kinski’s Paganini – great steamin’ Cthulhu, what a trainwreck of a movie. Though it must be admitted that (yes, he was memorably in the cast) Marcel Marceau had the best lines…

    2. Jade Tavares says:

      Eu penso que Paganini merecia uma série de de TV,e eu faria com o fabuloso David Garret!
      E também merece ser perdoado pelo Papa ,poderíamos fazer um apelo para que isso aconteça.
      Papa Francisco ,certamente o perdoaria .

  4. Zinnia Radhy says:

    Never mind the “Fuss” about Acting actually, David Garrett has never been known as an actor, And most probably never he has the ambition to be one either.. Rather, David Garrett is a superbly genius Violinist with uniquely beautiful approaches to redeem the past into the present of the music-wonder, And I believe he wonderfully excel with this all the times..

    As for David’s role in The Devil Violinist movie, The theme is to deliver the idea of a life story and NOT the typical life story NEITHER the fictional made up Hollywood story of Paganini’s life… And so, I believe, Alongside with many other thousands, The theme is delivered perfectly well, And even the most ignorants of Paganini’s life becomes more aware of it now, Which is the main point.. Thanks to David Garrett and his music for shedding the lights to revive a biography…

    I watched the movie and I was bearing in mind the theme, The life story of “The Most Successful Two Violinists of All Times” And definitely NOT picking on David as an actor, Simply because HE IS NOT, And Himself doesn’t want to be either..

    My best wishes for David Garrett, The Best Violinist of All Generations.

    1. Joachim Mischke says:

      The reviews here in Germany were disastrous, and rightfully so. This is the best – a brillant parody called “The devil’s triangle player” including making fun of Garrett’s jewelry commercial.

    2. Gonout Backson says:

      “And definitely NOT picking on Keanu Reeves as an violinist, Simply because HE IS NOT, And Himself doesn’t want to be either.”

      Even if, of course, he insisted on playing the violin himself.

    3. harold braun says:

      Theo best violinist of all generations?Whoaaaahhh!Ever heard of Heifetz,Oistrakh,,Milstein,Francescatti et al.?He is a fair to middling fiddler,look at any major US or British Orchestra and you’ll find better ones.But he is cleverly marketed.But every student at Julliard gives him a run for his money-When the sun is low,even dwarfs cast huge shadows!

      1. Zinnia Radhy says:

        Oh, I guess that’s why very few who have heard of those other musicians you’ve mentioned Harold, I wonder why??? Ain’t they from other renowned musical schools too??? Hm, Then probably because they even cast no shadows at all….. Maybe!!!!!!!!

        1. DLowe says:

          This is a very bizarre level of devotion, to someone that is *not* considered the best violinist of any generation. There’s a difference between a very capable violinist, and someone of almost divine talent.

        2. Alexander says:

          I can only imagine that you are (a) completely ignorant about violin playing, (b) delusional, or (c) a troll. Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, and Francescatti are giants of the golden age of violin playing. Anybody who knows anything about the violin knows these names. I have an uncommon fondness for Joseph Szigeti, but if we were looking for some kind of consensus I think it could safely be said that Jascha Heifetz is widely considered to have set a standard of violin playing which has not yet been surpassed. Even if you are looking at younger violinists (relatively speaking) David Garrett is nowhere close to being in the same league as Nigel Kennedy, Gil Shaham, or James Ehnes.

          1. George Friedman says:

            Enesco above all :)…you forgot about him…

      2. lori says:

        um;
        he WENT to Julliard. at an astonishingly young age, btw. and was a star there.
        don’t u remember him from when U were there? HAHAHAHAHAH
        he moves me to tears with his play, he inspired my child to play with an energy to take her to Carnegie hall, I recognize him instantly from among any other violinist I have ever heard, and he is – oh wait, the fastest violinist ever as well.
        but besides that, I guess u r better:> HAHAHAHAHA

    4. Alexander says:

      “David Garrett, The Best Violinist of All Generations”

      Other contenders would include Jascha Heifetz, Joseph Szigeti, Henryk Szeryng, Nathan Milstein, David Oistrakh, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Grumiaux, Ivry Gitlis, Ida Haendel, Fritz Kreisler, Ginette Neveu, Josef Hassid, Váša Příhoda, Gidon Kremer, and Itzhak Perlman, but that’s just my opinion.

    5. Sherrie says:

      I think his acting skills were excellent! What is wrong with people? The way he looked at Charlotte and the passion behind those eyes when he played the violin. I have seen a lot worse movies where they sound like they are reading their lines slowly. I think you men are jealous of this talent and sexy man. I’ve been around 51 years and no man has ever made me feel such sensitivity as this man. Feeling in his music and his soul! Love him!

      1. Guadalupe Lindo says:

        Absolutely agree with you. The fact that he did not depict Paganini in the way they wanted him to do it is not a reason to diminish his work. Just like him, Paganini was a musician, and a pretty excentrict one. Considering it is his first job as an actor, he did it great.

      2. colin ewan says:

        Regardless of how he looks,he’s making plenty of money.I belive he’s a millionaire a few times over.
        Also it’s a pity he’s in the papers for meeting and loving an ex porn/escort,who is now trying to sue him for a bruised rib,caused by rough sex.She only wants $12 million .Don’t know if all his lady fans will forgive him.

    6. May says:

      Thank you for your fair analysis, I strongly agree with your point of view.

    7. Lynn Canesso says:

      Bravo ~ you said it all beautifully. I thought David Garrett was convincing in the film and he played beautifully Niccolo Paganini’s music. It is because of “The Devil’s Violinist” that I discovered through David ~ that I liked Niccolo Paganini’s music. *I share your opinion totally.

  5. Joachim Mischke says:

    Find it at YouTube, made by Jan Böhmermann

  6. John Borstlap says:

    Tt’s not serious.

  7. Christopher Stager says:

    These reviews, however, make no mention of the thrilling car chase across Dakota plains, nor the edge-of-your-seat excitement of Paganini’s last minute rescue of hostages from third-world terrorists. These so-called “critics” just keep harping on historical inaccuracy and Garrett’s wooden performance. Is it really wooden? Of just “method” PSTD from the character’s third tour of duty in Iraq?

  8. Christl B. says:

    good your comments , Zinnia. You spoke right and for both of us – and many others how know what angesät Violinist he is. He always Said he’s not a performer. This is not his demanding. It was only his wish ti make a film about Paganini’s life and his music. That’s it.

    1. Diane V. says:

      that’s right, CHRISTLB

  9. Sergei says:

    No need to. He’s a nobody.

    1. Janet Wilt Williams says:

      You are blind to David,musical abilities. Were you playing the violin at age 4? Do you give concert around the world for 20 plus years. Sold out. Enough said

  10. anon says:

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. The notion that Niger Kennedy is even remotely in the same category as David Garret makes me truly sorry for those people who are obviously tone deaf. Yes there are and will be many great violinists. Favourites will be chosen by individual taste. However if you have compared the four seasons, for example, Kennedy is scratchy at best, deviating from the original phrasing and slowing the tempo, as most do (except Garrett) by half a beat, to make the piece less demanding. As for Juilliard Garrett was consistently the top violin pupil during his studies. Though of course we only have Perlman’s word for that. Who is he after all? Garret may certainly not be an actor. A fact he himself agrees with. However if you can listen to his Beethoven and Bach and deny his talent then we can only assume your ears are preoccupied with another task but then your mouth and bottom seem to have confused their roles also.

    1. Alexander says:

      Strangely, a moderator has removed by rather politely worded reply, but has left the original offensive statement to stand!

    2. Diane says:

      agree, 100% with Rabid Fan

      David is awesome and is not stuck in box, just playing one type of music.
      Music is who he is and he can play anything and everything beautifully. An actor he never said he really was but did want to give this a try.,and, his style of acting is his style! He can’t possibly please everybody, especially the ones who are so jealous and envious of David…his good looks, his personality, his popularity and of course his musicial talents.
      God bless David Garrett , with his courage and bravery to be true to himself, in sharing his joy/love for music. It is through him that many, many people who were just Rock music lovers have now been introduced to the beautiful classics that David plays during his Crossover concerts, therefore causing many new people to appreciate classical music, period!! And that, dear folks, is what David Garrett has intended to do, bringing in the people to enjoy music of all types.
      While the movie might not be the best of movies, I never thought it would be but I knew I would enjoy touching base a little with PAGANINI through truth and fiction in this movie plus AWESOME music played by a virtuoso and great work by Franck Van der Heijden on the musicial score

      1. Diane V says:

        right on!! This She-Bear is protecting my cub. He isn’t pretending to be an awesome actor but had a goal of teaching others a little about who PAGANINI was. I saw the movie . Wish there wasn’t the nudity and just gave the illusion of what was happening in those bedroom scenes. Not needed.

        David Garrett has done what other talent and awesome violinist haven’t been able to do over the years. He has brought out the joy and love in music. He has brought people from a rock only following into appreciating the beautiful classical pieces. And for me who never liked or followed rock bands in the past, to be able to hear the great music of the guitars and drums done in those groups. Not a fan of many lyrics but the instrumental parts, yes.

        David Garrett I think has many jealous and envious “Critics” out there, and what they say doesn’t mean more than a hill of beans to me.

        As for this 71 year old,
        Go David Go! Go David Go! Go David Go!!
        I’ll be your cheerleader any time. Waiting for your return to the concert stage here in the USA soon as you are so worth it.
        You are missed

      2. Diane V. says:

        From one Diane to another, I so totally agree with you. I stand for and with David Garrett and his awesome music

  11. sergey says:

    I believe that old actor Steward Granger did also Paganini on film, Anybody saw him?

  12. tania curci says:

    Ho visto il film e ne sono rimasta entusiasmata chi piu’ del Maestro Garrett poteva interpretare Paganini?Preferisco comunque chi ha dato la vita alla musica ,chi conosce i sacrifici e le rinunce che comporta studiare uno strumento.Preferisco vedere il primo piano di dita e arco che si muovono senza controfigura che un qualsiasi attore che ,si’ avrebbe centrato la mimica ma non avrebbe risposto alla figura del grande maestro.Paganini era il violino ,era la musica e Garrett lo è nello stesso identico modo.

    .

  13. Rabid Fan says:

    I highly dislike those haughty persons who think they know everything, who’s the best, who’s the worst. Who’s average. Empty judgement by narrow minded. Artistic «products’» evaluation can be all but objective. It cannot be measured with scales. This is perfectly related to individual perceptions. For the grumpy persons here, those big names you mentioned, could be greatest violinists of all time (in your subjective opinion) BUT they havent succeeded to bring the interest of younger generations, of non-classical music listeners, to classical music. David Garrett did. He doesnt need your recognition, after Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Ida Haendel, Zubin Mehta, recognized his talent and that he is a gifted violinist with a great sound. He devotes his time between classical and crossover performances. He invigorates the violin, extends its possibilities. He’s invited by great orchestras. His concerts and shows are sold out. He fills large venues. Wins awards every year. Yeah, I can only understand your envy. As for the Devil’s Violinist ( main subject here), David Garrett has never pretended to pursue any career in acting. He was more interested by the musical side and he succeeded in this. I personally prefer to see a good violinist playing a good violinist, than a great actor playing a good violinist, without even knowing how to hold a violin correctly.

    1. Guadalupe Lindo says:

      You nailed it, sir. The fact that Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Ida Haendel, Zubin Mehta recognized his talent speaks loudly about it. What others think about it is absolutely irrelevant.

    2. Cara Morelli says:

      Well said, bravo!!!

  14. Janet Wilt Williams says:

    I must agree with your comments David does not have aspirations of acting. He wanted peoe to know the life of Pagininni David is the most talented Violinist of all time I attended the promo in NYC on 2-1-15. Sold out . I had the honor and pleasure of meeting David He is a humble man. I had an opportunity to speak with David, have pic and autograph. He is a gentle man and a gentleman. Try a once in a livetime experience

    1. Janet Wilt Williams says:

      Just in addition to my previous remarks. Would any of the critics be able to play a single note on the violin? Would they be the Violinist of the Universe and all time? I think not .So do not critique David Garrett ,s acting skills.

      1. Galina says:

        Well said Janet. It is envious old men who criticize him. It is quite funny to find so harsh comments from people who have never played a note, while renowned musicians recognize him as a great musician.

        1. Bobbi says:

          Hi, I’m a young female violinist. Not young enough to be considered a novice, but not quite advanced yet. David Garrett is quite extraordinary, but not the best. I personally don’t hear the same clarity and superhuman intonation of Hillary Hahn, or the raw passion of Sara Chang and Perlman (I’m aware that Garrett studied under him at Julliard). It’s just my opinion that he still has to grow a bit more before becoming someone who will go down in history.

          1. Galina says:

            As I told someone else before, musical appreciation is a matter of personal taste. Just as each person appreciates colors differently, we appreciate sound according to our individual hearing range. David Garrett’s pitch happens to be the one I appreciate the most. Also, when performing classical music, not his own arrangements at crossover concerts, as Zubin Mehta said in December 2013: “…I’m very impressed with how true to the intentions of the composer he plays it. In other words he uses his technique and his beautiful sound to serve the music he’s playing. And that’s very important.”

  15. Janet Wilt Williams says:

    The autograph and pic had no cost .

  16. Alexander says:

    It’s interesting how often people put artistic judgement down to envy. If I were envious of David Garrett wouldn’t it follow that I would be all the more envious of Jascha Heifetz? Or if we have to limit ourselves to living violinists, wouldn’t I be all the more envious of Alina Ibragimova, at just 29 a violinist of exceptional technical brilliance and musical intelligence? And if we’re talking about crossover artists hugely popular with a wider audience who would not normally engage with classical music, wouldn’t we be describing Yehudi Menuhin?

  17. Rabid Fan says:

    You are exactly proving my point. These critics are narrow-minded. These «artistic judgements» you’re advancing are your own, so necessarily subjective. Plus, why the insistence of comparing David Garrett with others ? (This sheds a questionable light on your motives…you look like a «rabid critic»). You like it or not, he is UNcomparable. He created a new genre. Opened a new path. BTW, I dislike when superficial journalists call him the David Beckham (Kurt Cobain) of the Violin. But I guess the world is filled with superficial persons…as we can see. Plus, here we are talking about the Devil’s Violinist. A project that was driven by his love for music. His concern to give an accurate illustration of the life of a great violinist, who was revolutionary and trendsetter for his time. I personally saw the other version, and I prefer this one. It has more life, more passion for music in it. It has the touch of a real musician, revolutionary one in his way and time …This is more important for me than the other details. In my personal opinion.
    Finally (bcoz this will be my last comment here), I insist on the FACT that Garrett doesnt need your approval, or your recognition. He has enough fans, has a growing fan base, and has received & continue to receive, enough recognition by valuable artists. 🙂

    1. Galina says:

      Thank you for saying it so well.

  18. carolina says:

    I have to agree about the acting, but point your finger at the director/screen writer. A writer of a period work like this should be more astute. The character who is Paganini’s love interest in ONE scene alone speaks current American slang saying OK and SURE. She is speaking from a script, not ad libbing. The violin and musical scenes are by far the highlight of the move..and to watch David ‘Garrett playing NOT dubbed, is a thrill. Also a beautiful score combines to tell Paganini’s story as much as can be known is wonderful. Jared Harris’ performance was brilliant as well as the Friesian horses perfectly cast and performed to perfection. Any time you can watch and listen to David Garrett perform on the violin is a gift. I saw the movie TWICE.

  19. Chelle_Taylor says:

    I find jealous balding and/or paunchy men who must make a grand show of their financial assets to attract their shallow, soulless trophy wives and lovers absolutely laughable, as well as predictable.

    The fact is that the film’s flaws had nothing to do with David Garrett, who can express paragraphs of dialogue with his eyes. Sadly, few people possess the perception to read such subtle and nuanced nonverbal communication.

    Had the film not had such an overtly B movie title and premise (the “Devil” …seriously?) and wasted so much time and talent flirting around with that distracting myth the plot and supporting characters could have lived and breathed.

    David Garrett was the only redeeming factor in a poorly conceptualized, poorly made (aside from music and costuming) and abysmally edited film. And prior to the film I did not know who David Garrett is, so I am no giddy “fangirl” defending her latest crush.

  20. Janelle says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, for its content, and Mr. Garret talent. I believe this was his first film…he does indeed have the chops and potential as an actor. Although I would hate to lose his music to an acting career.

  21. Rosalines Lon says:

    A famous phrase;

    Tell me what you criticize and I know what you are missing …. envious……

  22. Sai says:

    Hellll you elders criticising a boy half your age? Then you blame us the younger generation for being disrespectful? I am 28 , randomly found DG on YouTube and fell in love with his work and classical music, we don’t bash OLD singers and composers instead we’ve learned to love their work along with what we have present in the NOW ! We don’t compare old with new, we don’t judge them but this old generation I am so not sorry to say is full of crap! Living in their own box thinking and believing what they like and do everybody should do that too, well oldies that’s never going to happen, so suck it up, if you want respect from us then learn to give it first because you are the one who raised us! Stop stop stop hating what you don’t understand and is against your taste, if you don’t like a color in rainbow its not rainbows fault nor your hatred for that particular color will affect rainbow anyway.

  23. Barbara says:

    David Garrett is not an actor and if you read and listen to his interviews he will freely admit that this is not something he is good at nor will be pursuing in the future He wanted the music to be good in the movie, which it was
    In general, I don’t care for men with long, blonde hair, however his dedication to his violin and a practice schedule of four hours a day and the grueling tour schedule make the physical appearance so attractive. He is charismatic. I never ureally listened to violin music before DG. I heard his music and loved it long before seeing him, so I can say I am truly a fan regardless of physical appearance. He has opened my eyes to a whole other world of music—I am obsessed


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