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Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould Review

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Thirty two diverse episodes that revolve around the life of a famous Canadian pianist who retired from the stage young and became a recluse, only releasing studio albums while making bizarre phone calls to friends. In this film we see him at his best and why he became so introverted.

★★★★

Glenn Gould was the brilliant, eccentric Canadian classical pianist who retired from the concert stage young and spent the rest of his reclusive but remarkable life making multi-Grammy-winning recordings and epic rambling phone calls to friends until his death at 50 in 1982. Here, young French-Canadian writer-director Francois Girard celebrates Gould's life, work and singular personality in a dazzlingly adventurous, impressionistic series of vignettes — the structure of 32 short films a clever, playful mimicking of Bach's Goldberg Variations — that is unlike any musical biopic you've ever seen.

No previous knowledge of Gould, nor any familiarity with his repertoire, is necessary to become absorbed in this funny, tender mosaic of a gifted, idiosyncratic and enigmatic character's many facets. Concocted from interviews, fact and fantasy, Girard's portrait mixes the narrative with the abstract, the documentary with the inspired, to explore the many complexities of its subject.

Diary Of One Day is a striking X-ray film of a pianist's skeleton, musculature and nerve endings while at work; while Truck Stop observes Gould mentally orchestrating conversations around him at a cafe into a pleasing arrangement of life rhythms. Actors, friends and relations of Gould's cross paths, while Feore as Gould gives a commanding and wonderful picture of this rare musician (without once actually tinkling the ivories). An original, high class pleasure, this comes, naturally, with a glorious soundtrack.

These episodic adventures are a joy to watch and although not all of them are as memorable as each other, each has an entertaining quality that means the film as a whole will stick with you for a long time. Feore is excellent as the pianist, even though you never actually see him play.