Introducing “Antonio Vivaldi,” helmer Jean-Louis Guilllermou windbagged at such length about music-the-universal-language that the polite, gray Montreal aud began clapping for him to let the film speak for itself. Unfortunately, it then did — just as ploddingly. This old-school Europudding about the famed 18th-century composer deadens soaring melodies with creaky moviemaking that runs a stilted gamut from the ponderous to the laughable. Such projects will always find berths among certain artscasters, but that’s no excuse.
Stefano Dionisi (star of a more entertainingly kitsch classical bio, 1994’s “Farinelli”) is dully earnest as the priest irking superiors by gallivanting around Europe as an increasingly popular, court-patronized composer. Pic portrays him as the poor victim of church politics, though a more alert treatment might have addressed his highly secular lifestyle, including much consorting with attractive women (Annette Schreiber plays soprano Anna Giro). Hapless scenario lets even fleeting minor figures address the camera with tedious biographical errata. Splendor of historic locations, Antonia Sautter’s costumes and soundtracked music clash against bare-bones operatic sequences and the curious dearth of aging makeup (despite script’s 33-year time span). Vet thesps, notably Michel Serrault as a kvetching bishop, are wasted.