Ombres | Chicago Reader

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One art informs another in this excellent 1997 documentary about two Swiss geniuses. Fascinated by outsider painter and violinist Louis Soutter (who died while institutionalized during World War II), acclaimed oboist and conductor Heinz Holliger composes a violin concerto in homage. Soutter's expressionistic works—some resembling Rorschach blots, others atavistic cave paintings—are transmuted into complex movements that progress from the ominous to the agitated, with halftones echoing his psychological distress. As if not to compete with the music's drama, director Edna Politi restrains the camera, locking onto Holliger's face and hands as he conducts and letting him bob and weave in and out of frame. In French and German with subtitles. 105 min.

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