South O’ the Highway

Julianne Moore Plays Opera Star Hostage in “Bel Canto,” Premiering Sept. 14

Her voice is the key to finding peace.

Montauk resident Julianne Moore will play an enchanting opera singer in the theatrical release of Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel of the same title, Bel Canto, on September 14. The plot, inspired by the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru from 1996-97, revolves around the power of music to trump politics and language barriers, and to bring unity in intensely hostile situations.

Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe in
Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe in “Bel Canto,” Photo: ©Screen Media Films

Moore will play the crux of that theme, Roxane Coss, an American soprano who travels to a South American country that has fallen under a dictatorship. She travels there to sing a private concert in a lavish mansion for one of her biggest fans, a wealthy Japanese industrialist named Mr. Hosokawa, played by Ken Watanabe. The party is suddenly interrupted when a guerrilla rebel group bursts into the hotel and begins holding all attendees hostage to bargain for the release of their imprisoned comrades. The trailer released on August 7, shows whisperings that the dictatorship will shoot the hostages themselves and blame it on the rebels. A month-long standoff ensues, and hostages and captors—speaking different languages—must find ways to communicate. In that time, with the help of Roxane’s angelic voice, understanding and even a sense of camaraderie has been forged between some of the rebels and hostages.

Julianne Moore in
Moore as Roxane Coss, Photo: ©Screen Media Films

As the trailer shows, the rebels decide that Roxane will sing on the balcony of the mansion to remind the government what’s at stake. The trailer shows the leader of the rebel group tell Roxanne, “When they hear the beauty of your voice, perhaps they will find a solution.” According to The New York Times, the famous soprano who inspired Patchett’s main character, Renée Fleming, provides the operatic vocals that Moore lip-syncs.

Bel Canto will premiere in select theaters September 14 and will be available on demand starting September 21.

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