Bel Canto review – vacuous hostage drama

Julianne Moore plays an opera singer trapped in South America in a tepid adaptation of Ann Patchett’s bestseller

Ann Patchett’s bestselling 2001 novel might have seemed cinematic on the page but this vacuous adaptation doesn’t work at all. Julianne Moore plays American opera singer Roxanne Coss, performing at a private event for Japanese businessman Hosokawa (Ken Watanabe), who’s visiting an undisclosed, military-controlled town somewhere in South America on a recce for a new factory he’s unsure about investing in. Rebels crash the party; an overhead shot displays black tie-clad prisoners strewn across the marble floor. Coss flirts with Hosokawa and learns to play chess; elsewhere in the mansion, Hosokawa’s translator, Gen (Ryo Kase), gives secret Spanish lessons to armed guard Carmen (MarÍa Mercedes Coroy). Even when under siege, the film seems to be saying, people will find a way to have sex. Except these dalliances lack fire; anyway, it’s as though they belong to a different movie.

There’s a tepid, cross-cultural romantic comedy trapped inside this televisual hostage drama. The reliable Moore is trapped too. Even she can’t animate the material, leaving the graphic denouement feeling like a bum note.

Watch the trailer for Bel Canto.

Contributor

Simran Hans

The GuardianTramp

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