Capsule Review: The Musician

Written by Patrick Hao


The only voice in The Musician is through the kamancheh, a traditional Persian string instrument. For a film of 14-minutes long, it necessitates itself to be told through montage, especially for a film with these ambitions. Director Reza Riahi uses paper cutouts to pay tribute to traditional Persian art. The entire stop-motion production was a three-month process with each character hand crafted and the background hand painted.

The results are a film that takes place over two separate time periods. In 13th century Persia, a musician is invited to the palace of the Mongols to play music. Through his music, he embraces the remembrance of his love from fifty years ago, long lost due to the invasion of the Mongols.

The film is beautiful with sumptuous visuals. Riahi was previously an art director with Cartoon Saloon, working on The Breadwinner. The film demonstrates ability in using silent film techniques to express so much through pantomime. Little animation details such as the musician fumbling, and shaking is beautifully detailed and animated. It is an impressive feat.

However, any hopes of expressing a greater message of war and oppression can only be surface level with such a short runtime. Everything about The Musician is unfortunately surface level. Montage alone can only do so much.

The Musician Trailer

The Musician is currently available to stream on Paramount+.

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