The Concert mixes humour with drama and adds a bit of heart-warming sentiment for good measure. French-Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu shows the transcendent and transformative nature of music. While the film doesn’t quite reach greatness, it’s an engaging story with a true appreciation for Tchaikovsky.
The film follows Andreï Filipov (Alexeï Guskov), who in his twenties was a celebrated conductor at the Bolshoi Orchestra. When he refused the orders of the ruling Communist Party, his fall from grace was swift and permanent. Thirty years on, he is now a cleaner, however when he intercepts a fax inviting the Bolshoi to play at a prestigious Parisian venue, he concocts a plan to reform his disbanded orchestra and regain his past glories.
The Concert presents a Russia caught between old communist ideals and new capitalist money. Filipov’s closest confidant, ambulance driver/cellist Sacha Grossman (Dmitry Nazarov) and his arch-enemy, passionate communist Ivan Gavrilov (Valeri Barinov) add much needed humour to this depressing appraisal of modern Russian.
Making up the French contingent of the film is the fantastic François Berleand as the cunning director of the Théâtre du Châtelet, and the captivating Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) as Anne-Marie Jacquet, the guest soloist. Undoubtedly the tutelage of Sarah Nemtanu, first violinist of the National French Orchestra, aided Laurent’s powerful performance as a virtuoso violinist.
The real star of the film is the music. The sublime performance of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra for the film’s finale is the pinnacle of a gorgeous score arranged by César award-winning, Armand Amar.
The Concert certainly gets away with a fair bit of silliness simply by being a foreign language film and therefore seeming delightfully European. The Concert is by no means a perfectly polished film, but the last exquisite third makes up for the hiccups along the way.
Published in The Brag 26/04/10