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The Violin Player (Viulisti) - Film Review (Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2019)

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
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A famous violinist falls for her student
Karin (Matleena Kuusniemi) is a talented and famous violinist. She's travelled the world performing for adoring audiences, reaching the pinnacle of her career. Not only that, Karin has a happy family: a loving, successful husband and a happy young son.

But Karin's world is thrown upside down one evening following a performance. She is struck by a car on a city street. The film jumps forward to a solemn doctor telling Karin that she will never play again - the nerves in her hand have been so severely damaged and she will never regain the dexterity needed to play the violin.

This pretty much shatters Karin's world and she struggles to pick up the pieces of her life. Resigned finally to not being in the spotlight, she takes a job teaching at a prestigious Finnish music school. And this is where things get a bit tricky.

Karin soon falls for her much younger student, a talented and brash violinist named Antti (Olavi Uusivirta). The love affair progresses quickly, unbeknown to Antti's girlfriend Sofia (Misa Lommi), herself a talented violinist. Karin also manages to keep the affair from her husband, but old cracks in Karin's marriage begin to to show anyway.

What starts out as slightly complicated becomes wholly unmanageable when Karin's old conductor Bjorn (played by Kim Bodnia) comes to teach at the music school. The classes don't last long - an emergency leads Bjorn to need a soloist for a performance in Copenhagen. Despite Bjorn picking Sofia as the best violinist in Karin's class, Karin suggests Antti. Bjorn agrees and the three pack off to Denmark for the concert. Karin and Antti can finally be together, though problems soon emerge.

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Directed by Pavvo Westerberg and playing as part of the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival, The Violin Player is an elegant study of a musician struck down mid-career.
Really never able to come to terms with what has happened to her, Karin flails around - while nearly every aspect of her life unravels before her. Into this steps Antti, who offers Karin a direction to take, regardless of the consequences.

Matleena Kuusniemi's performance as Karin is a highlight, her face often shot in close up, the pain at what her life has become never far from the surface. The rest of the characters don't get as much attention, all of them are a little one-dimensional. The plot too has its twists and turns but fairly conventional paths are ultimately followed. The music (as you would imagine) plays a starring role and the performance and rehearsal scenes are shot beautifully.

Despite a lack of heft to the story, The Violin Player makes for a happy and pleasant diversion.

The Violin Player (Viulisti) is playing nationally as part of the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2019.

Find information on session times, locations and tickets on the festival's official website.
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Why? For the violin
Where: Palace Cinemas
Cost: Varies
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