Django Screen 8 articles

Django

2017

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  • For his directorial debut, Etienne Comar’s done himself no favors in choosing to tell the story of legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Biopics are tough enough, being necessarily as narratively messy as the lives they’re based on, but especially when nearly every dramatic beat has already been beaten to death.

  • As a pre-eminent jazz aristocrat once taught, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. While, in terms of musical content, Django has swing a-plenty, cinematically Etienne Comar’s drama about jazz guitar maestro Django Reinhardt is a slow crawl in decidedly unsyncopated 4/4 time.

  • The epitome of the insipid if well-intentioned historical drama. The image has that boring smoky, somber look that Oliver Hirschbiegel also uses in his WWII films and Comar’s direction is so flat, he proves incapable of injecting Reinhardt’s flight with the requisite urgency, or even of shooting the music scenes with any rigor, which could have been Django’s saving grace.

  • For a biopic about a jazz musician whose music and personality had the power to set hearts afire and toes tapping, Django plays as a disappointingly staid and conventional affair... Even more unfortunate than the film's overly respectable surface, however, is its simplistic, near-hagiographic view of Reinhardt.

  • The end of this movie reminds the viewer of the gypsies who were victimized by Nazis in this period. That’s commendable, but it doesn’t really make up for the fact that “Django” is for the most part everything Reinhardt’s music was not: listless, glum and meandering.

  • The limited framework works better than in a typical life-spanning narrative, condensing the drama into a few months while offering star Reda Kateb the chance to shine in an impressively restrained performance. But this semi-fictionalized account rings false whenever it eschews reality for a WWII cloak-and-dagger intrigue, trying too hard to dazzle us with plot instead of letting the music speak for itself. Still, it’s a handsomely made affair with one of the best scores imaginable.

  • To encompass Reinhardt’s huge cultural impact is to make vivid both the strength and the suffering of his people. This is why, in spite of its pedestrian style, Django manages to be compelling. There’s an urgent impetus at the heart of this film, far beyond the realm of either flat period biopic or mere history lesson. Django takes on the perspective of what remains one of the most maligned ethnic groups of Europe. In so doing, it tells a story both triumphant and tragic.

  • Stark and affecting depictions of the Romani genocide bookend the narrative. . . . The film contains a number of fictionalized characters and scenarios that ring false (Reinhardt's moral questioning is activated by a groupie with a heart of gold), but the extended musical numbers by Reinhardt's Quintette du Hot Club de France are wonderful.

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