"The Devil's Violinist," a new biopic starring the violinist David Garrett as Niccolò Paganini, has drawn some devilishly negative reviews from German newspapers since its opening a week ago.
The film, which debuted in Germany and Austria on October 31, is set in 1830 and tells the story of the famous Italian fiddler's London debut. It stars Garrett, a German crossover violinist who studied at Juilliard with Itzhak Perlman. Although Garrett has extensive pop-music credentials and has worked as a fashion model, this is his first feature film. The director is Bernard Rose, whose credits include the 1994 Beethoven biopic "Immortal Beloved."
The Berliner Morgenpost's Peter Zander wrote that that the combination of talent looked good on paper but the script lacks humor and the acting is wooden. "Every scene is a failure," wrote Zander. "No facial expressions. No gestures. No sense of how to speak dialogue properly."
Die Welt was similarly blunt with the appraisal, "Garrett has no charisma, he cannot act, you do not even like to look at him." Sueddeutsche was more measured in its critique, complementing the "gorgeous" music but questioning the portrayal of Paganini as a kind of louche superhero.
Paganini was considered a rock star of his day, a notorious womanizer who drew massive audiences throughout Europe and, legend has it, sold his soul to the devil. He also wrote many virtuoso works for the violin which remain repertoire staples.
"The Devil's Violinist" opened in seventh place at the German box office last week, bringing in $798,612. A release in the U.S. has not been announced, though the production company, Film House Germany, has released an English-language trailer. Have a look and tell us what you think: