The 15 Best Movies About Fictional Musicians

8. Gloomy Sunday – Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod (Rolf Schübel, 1999)


Gloomy Sunday – Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod is a German film about a love song that became a curse. The premise of Gloomy Sunday takes place in Budapest just before the outbreak of the second world war. A young and handsome pianist finds employment in a fancy restaurant where he finds himself standing in the way of love of the owner and his beautiful waitress. The three of them develop a complex relationship which keeps everyone equally satisfied. Or at least it seems that way.

While it portrays the hardships through one artist goes through, the focus of the narrative is on the complicated three-way connection of the main characters that try their best to ignore the turbulent times that could separate them forever and live their lives as peacefully as they can.


7. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers, 2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis

This one depicts a week in a life of an apathetic folk singer who’s trying to get by in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the sixties. Llewyn is a melancholic tortured soul down on his luck, and a series of unfortunate events lead him on a psychological journey of self-discovery packed with interesting situations and characters, various emotional states, and a lot of melodic folk music.

The narrative unfolds in somber cold tones that visually express the weltschmerz of the main character surrounded by a pessimistic atmosphere overall. The performances are great, the dialogues are creative and witty at times, and the story itself is quite unique.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a devastatingly sad movie which presents how sorrow and haunting remorse for the past can compromise one’s ability to cope with the present. It’s not just a great watch, it’s a wonderful experience.


6. Once (John Carney, 2006)


Glen Hansard plays a man who repairs vacuum cleaners for living and plays his guitar in the street to nurture his talent and make some money on the side. His life takes a dramatic turn when a woman with the same level of musical enthusiasm enters his life and ignites his ambition to make a career in music.

Their friendship leads to an unexpected collaboration which cultivates some wonderful music. Their relationship becomes delicate when the lead character, who jokingly calls himself broken-hearted-hoover-fixer-sucker-guy, falls for the girl and ultimately discovers that they can’t be together.

Once is a great example showing how easy it is to make a moving, personal story. It’s an Irish Low-budget tale about two dreamers teaming up to cope with the pessimistic dullness of living a modern life.It’s simple and cute, a short emotional trip.


5. This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)


Outrageously funny and precise “rockumentary” spoof of absurd documentaries about rock bands with offensive satirical approach and clever directing as well. It’s the first feature film directed by Reiner with accurate illustration of bloated egos, pompous behaviour and amusing intimate moments with great dialogue enhanced by improvisations of the trio who reportedly worked without a screenplay.

The film is almost a tragedy so well does it chronicle the absurd collapse of the band. However, regardless of the funny narrative, the comedy is in the characters and the sharp dialogue. While most of the action is really funny, the film shines the most during the backstage arguments, the honest interviews, and bizarre situations like the Stonehenge dance or the inability to find the way onstage in Cleveland. This is Spinal Tap is a must see, It’s a film that cranks its discreet hilarity to eleven.


4. Okuribito (Yôjirô Takita, 2008)


This unusual drama is centered around Daigo, a newly unemployed cellist that stumbles into a job as an undertaker. Too ashamed to tell his wife, he slowly warms to his apprenticeship under the masterful guidance of Sasaki, his charismatic tutor.

Eventually, the inevitable traumas of a childhood long forgotten surface as he tries to accustom himself with the situation. The trigger for the negative feelings towards Daigo’s profession is his wife Mika, who takes decisive steps on finding out what he really does for a living.

Okuribito, or Departures is a touching movie with a sentimental story about life and death. The idea of death as a runaway from the immense emotional troubles is an interesting one by itself; but here it is disclosed in an artistic and sorrowful way, through delicate relationship with the families of the diseased person.


3. La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1998)

Legend of 1900

This movie is unique in many ways, about a fantastic piano player who spends his entire life on board an ocean liner. The best thing about this film is not the story, which is highly enjoyable, but the fantastic cinematography. It’s a great-looking film.

Speaking of looks, Melanie Thierry is beautiful in this one. She has only a small part, but she makes a strong visual impact. Furthermore, it’s very nice to see Tim Roth play something other than a loathsome villain. Clarence Williams is great too, as an arrogant character who comes aboard the ship to challenge Roth to a piano duel.

It’s brilliantly made by Giuseppe Tornatore, the same man who did the well-known Italian masterpiece, Cinema Paradiso, and if you appreciate how good-looking that film is, you should check this one out.


2. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)


Whiplash centers itself around Andrew Neyman, a young drummer whose dream is to become one of the all time jazz legends. When offered an opportunity to get to the top, Andrew quickly discovers his new conductor is a person with non-conventional teaching methods. Terrence Fletcher directs the small orchestra at the conservatory with a ferociously draconic teaching style. He violently pushes Andrew to his limits in order to recognize his full potential, at the risk of his humanity.

The film gets highly dramatic in places and has some exceptionally intense scenes between Miles Tellers and J.K. Simmons who both deliver outstanding performances in this movie. It is a well-made anti-social thesis on motivation. In the loud, energetic sounds of Andrew’s sweaty drum set, it pushes you to redefine your meaning of success.


1. Hostsonaten (Ingmar Bergman, 1978)

Autumn Sonata film

Famous Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman strikes such a profound, tragic chord with cinephiles that he’s impossible to dismiss. “Autumn Sonata” is admirable and emotional, and the characters are very relatable. It’s a sorrowful piece with burdensome sequences.

Bergman takes something as simple as an autumn visit by a mother to her long forgotten daughter, and transforms it into a powerful experience. Liv Ullman is at her best as the daughter who never met her mother’s expectations, or so it seems.

Unforgettable Ingrid Bergman delivers a great depiction of a egotistic mother that established her as one of the greatest actresses of all time. This masterpiece is full of Bergman’s classic close shots of characters with faces filling up the screen and displaying the kinds of emotions that you thought were too deep to surface. This is not just a movie-watching experience, it’s a contemplation on the nature of humanity itself.


Honorable mentions:

Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, 1999)

This memorable comedy by Woody Allen deals with the 1930s fictional jazz guitarist Emmet Ray as he gets in trouble with the mob and falls in love with a mute.

Armin (Ognjen Svilicic, 2007)

Father and son leave their little village in Bosnia and head for an audition for a film dealing with the recent war in the Balkans. The son, Armin, is a strong performer and his father wants him to impress the people in charge of the audition so that he can be given a chance for a better tomorrow.

Mr. Holland’s Opus (Stephen Herek, 1995)

Glenn Holland is a musician and composer who takes a job as a teacher to pay the rent while he’s working on his goal to compose one memorable piece of music in his spare time.

Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)

An all-girl teen band recruits shy Korean exchange student as their vocalist, and decide to play a gig at the school festival.

Un coeur un hiver (Claude Sautet, 1992)

Attractive violin player Camille has two obsessions: the music of Ravel, and an associate of her husband’s who crafts violins.

Tirez sur le pianiste (François Truffaut, 1960)

“Shoot the Piano Player” is one of Truffaut’s most charming and inventive works. Charles Aznavour plays a former concert pianist who becomes an anonymous piano player in a dive bar in order to escape his past.

Author Bio: Ivan Saric is a 23-year-old philosophy and history student living in Split, Croatia. He’s an aspiring film critic who writes cinematic reviews for several sites, and is actively involved in great amount of various film-related activities.