Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993) - Rotten Tomatoes

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)



Critic Consensus: Befitting its singularly brilliant subject, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould captures the essence of a life and legacy while flouting biopic conventions.

Movie Info

The highly acclaimed and famously eccentric classical pianist Glenn Gould is the subject of this idiosyncratic film portrait. As the title suggests, Gould's life is explored through a series of thirty-two self-contained but interrelated vignettes, a structure inspired by Bach's "Goldberg Variations," the compositions that were the basis for one of Gould's most famous recordings. Fictional recreations, many starring an excellent Colm Feore as Gould, follow the musician from his precocious childhood to his early death at the age of fifty. Juicy biographical details like a surprising early retirement from public performance and an addiction to prescription drugs are featured prominently, but equal attention is paid to Gould's challenging theoretical ideas. Director Francois Girard refuses to provide easy explanations for the pianist's quirks, instead using his unconventional structure to provide great insight while suggesting the real Gould remains essentially unknowable. Especially interesting is the film's mix of dramatization and documentary, as it juxtaposes its fictional recreations with actual interviews with Gould's friends and associates. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Colm Feore
as Glenn Gould
Gale Garnett
as Journalist
Katya Ladan
as Gould's Mother
Gerry Quigley
as Music Critic
Peter Millard
as CBS Engineer
Derek Keurvost
as Gould's Father
Don McKellar
as Concert Promoter
David Hughes
as Stagehand
John Dolan
as CBS Assistant Engineer
R.D. Reid
as Trucker
James Kidnie
as Photographer
Ian D. Clark
as Phillip Brennan
Megan Smith
as Interviewee
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Critic Reviews for Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (11)

Instead of a laborious bio-pic, we get a sly, quick-witted meditation on a character always likely to elude our grasp.

August 17, 2020 | Full Review…

If only more filmmakers would take the fragmented, kaleidoscopic approach of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, which captures the essence of the famed pianist (and radio broadcaster) by honoring his unruliness.

December 11, 2018 | Full Review…

An assured melange of dramatic re-creation, archival material and interviews, it is a uniquely entertaining venture

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

A brilliant and transfixing cinematic portrait by Francois Girard.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

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.

April 21, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

[The filmmakers] discover no great answers or revelations, but by the end of the film they, and we, have a remarkable impression of a life lived curiously, but well.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

A unique way to pay tribute to one of the most underappreciated performers in history. The 32 short films I'm sure contributed to the inspiration for many of the other great thematic short film collections that have come since.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


The movie is constructed of 32 short films that fit together on a preverbal way. There really is no time line and all of the segments are shot in stunningly different styles. The movie and his music are very complimentary. His music falls into the catch-all modern Jazz bucket. Like his music, the movie meanders around; has high points and are pleasantly amusing. I caught this movie on cable several years ago and viewed it several times after. Don't look for an arc or a point just enjoy it.

Bill Cavros
Bill Cavros

Super Reviewer


A really original and well crafted film with a great performance by Colm Feore. I didn't know a lot about this Gould guy, but I am pretty sure that I would want to beat the shit out of him if I met him. I am not a fan of eccentric people who really have no reason to be eccentric other than the fact that they are talented at something.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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