In the movie The Song of Names Martin Simmonds (Tim Roth) has been haunted throughout his life by the mysterious disappearance of his “brother” and extraordinary best friend, a Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist, Dovidl Rapaport, who vanished shortly before the 1951 London debut concert that would have launched his brilliant career. Thirty-five years later, Martin discovers that Dovidl (Clive Owen) may still be alive, and sets out on an obsessive intercontinental search to find him and learn why he left.
Shortly before World War II, Martin’s music publisher father, Gilbert (Stanley Townsend), invites young Dovidl Rapoport (Luke Doyle), a nine-year-old Jewish violin prodigy from Poland, to live in their London home. Gilbert’s intent is to help the boy achieve his musical potential and protect him from the imminent German invasion of Poland. Martin (Misha Handley), also nine, initially sees Dovidl as an invader in his house, but Dovidl’s worries about the plight of his family in Warsaw elicits Martin’s compassion, and he is won over by the young genius’s charisma and rebelliousness. Soon they are as close as brothers. Having the extraordinary Dovidl as his best friend and confidante opens up Martin’s narrow world, and enhances his self-confidence.
Over several years as the boys grow up, Gilbert lavishes all his attention and the money he has on developing Dovidl’s (now Jonah Hauer-King) talent, a process that elicits jealousy from Martin (now Gerran Howell), despite his love for Dovidl. Eventually, Gilbert stages an extravagant London debut for Dovidl at age 21. Unfortunately, as the audience and orchestra await Dovidl’s arrival on stage, Dovidl fails to appear.
The cancellation of the concert bankrupts and devastates Gilbert, who dies soon after. It also leaves Martin with the loss of the “brother” he loved, the lingering question of what happened, and a growing bitterness over Dovidl’s responsibility for Martin’s father’s death.
Almost four decades later, Martin follows the clues that lead him ever closer to his friend, until he learns the meaning of The Song of Names, a profoundly moving piece of music that holds the answer to why his brother vanished so suddenly from his life.
Check out photos from The Song of Names: