What we have here is the French baroque Amadeus, involving two now obscure composer-violists of the 17th and 18th centuries, M. de Sainte Colombe and Marin Marais. The hulking Depardieu, a startling sight in powdered wig and elaborate ruffles, plays Marais, an ambitious musician whose eagerness to be a hit at Versailles costs him both his musical and spiritual souls. (The young Marais is played by Depardieu's 21-year-old son, Guillaume, who has his father's supple voice and strapping frame.) Jean-Pierre Marielle is Marais's reluctant teacher, the unworldly De Sainte Colombe, who sits alone into the night, communing with his instrument and the spirit of his dead wife.
This is a very slow movie with too many scenes of tormented men weeping over string instruments. Depardieu is without his customary verve, and Marielle's solemn performance is appropriately, if wearisomely, remote. (In French with subtitles) (Unrated)