New to VOD this week:
The travails of a string quartet underscore the world of high-end classical musical instruments.
At the center of Hicks’ film is the Australian String Quartet, whose composition, at this project’s outset, are Kristian Winther and Ioana Tache on violin, Stephen King on viola, and Sharon Draper on cello. With the support of their patron, Ulrike Klein, the foursome are provided with a rare set of Guadagnini instruments, among the most legendary in the world, and valued at millions of dollars. The viewer eventually comes to learn that egos are in no short supply in this group, with Winther and Tache, fast becoming a romantic couple and marrying, prompting a disastrous split. But while this clash of artistic temperaments could likely have served as the focus of Hick’s doc, the director instead chooses to take a more peripatetic approach that doesn’t altogether work, shifting from the ASQ to an extended consideration of the construction of stringed instruments by following an Italian craftsman commissioned to make a Guadagnini cello, to a reality-TV sequence with an over-the-top family of filthy rich New York City siblings who dream of selling diamond-covered Stradivariuses, and more. While there’s definite interest in parts of Hicks’ film, the various parts don’t ever synchronize into a satisfying whole.