LFF 2019 ‘The Song of Names’ Review: Two Brothers Seperated by the Weight of Tragedy

Dovidi Rappaport disappeared the night before the concert that would have made him a star violinist. He is commonly believed to have died that night. Decades later, Martin (Tim Roth) discovers that a man he once considered to be his brother may well still be alive.

The world of song of names often feels too small. Too few characters involved in this epic story that stretches across continents and centuries. Tim Roth’s character as he explores and retraces the drama of his erstwhile brother feels cut off from the drama.

What works beautifully is the tale of faith and music. Dovidi originally explores music as a method of proving himself. Its about his ego and perhaps his belief that he is worthy of having escaped the fate of his countrymen. Perhaps he’s also trying to keep his family alive in whatever solid way he can. This becomes the mechanism of his transformation. After surrendering his faith as a burden of suffering he discovers that his music may also be used magnanimously. He is faced with something larger than himself. It’s a beautifully introspective tale of realisation.

The song of names itself composed by Howard Shore forms the heart of the most powerful scene. In a beautifully lit tableaux the sorrowful song of those who have died is powerfully sung. It’s a film in which the holocaust is never portrayed but is represented by a heartbreaking absence. Characters stolen away. A quiet sorrow that separates those who know it and those who don’t.

This is a film about music as memory and faith as identity. It’s about communities united in pain and brothers torn apart by tragedy. It’s well acted, stylish and poetic, even if the notes occasionally ring a little hollow.

Four Stars

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