The Song of Names

Symbolic slog

A young Polish violin prodigy is taken in by the family of a British concert empresario before WWII, but mysteriously disappears on the eve of his public debut, ruining the family. Decades later, the empresario’s son (Tim Roth), still haunted by the Jewish boy’s betrayal, unearths a clue to his whereabouts and launches a Europe-wide search. The answer, when he finds him (Clive Owens), is unsurprisingly linked, albeit tangentially, to the Holocaust.

This emotional detective story from Francois Girard (Silk, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin) spans five decades and taught me stuff I didn’t know. But the intrigue stops abruptly once the man is found, and the reasons he offers for his disappearance will appeal mostly to the deeply religious.

It’s merely interesting rather than the spellbinding it was aiming for, and it gets tangled up in its own profundity and symbolism. Compliments to Ray Chen for the violin solos. (113 min)