The Concert (2009)
Director: Radu Mihăileanu
Writer: Radu Mihăileanu, Héctor Cabello Reyes, Thierry Degrandi, Matthew Robbins, Alain-Michel Blanc
Starring: Aleksei Guskov, Mélanie Laurent, Dmitri Nazarov, Miou-Miou
Country: France, Italy, Romania, Belgium, Russia
Language: French, Russian
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 119 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
USA Release: 7/30/2010 (Limited)
On DVD (USA): 6/14/2011
Awards: 1 Golden Globe Nomination (Best Foreign Language Film)
Music – (n) The art of organizing tones in combinations and sequences that constitutes a cohesive, undefined, continuous composition. (Riverside Webster’s II Dictionary) That definition only strikes the surface of the word. Music not only gives but it takes, it can give joy while taking away anger or sadness, that’s the beauty of it. Music feeds on emotion, if that’s not there it suffers. In “The Concert” it blends many emotions with the beautiful melody that is the story, while also giving you some amazing pieces of music.
30 years ago, Andreï Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) was at the height of his career only to be publicly humiliated on stage during a concert, all because he wouldn’t fire his Jewish musicians. Now working as a janitor for the very place he use to conduct, an opportunity is about to come face to face with him. After intercepting an fax meant for Bolshoï orchestra’s manager, he decides to get his old band back together to impersonate the Bolshoï orchestra and finally get to finish his dream. The only problem is, how can he possible pull it all off in under 2 weeks? With the help of his best friend Sasha (Dmitri Nazarov) and Ivan Gavril (Valeri Barinov) the ex-manager of the orchestra and also the man who single handedly ruined the careers of everyone in that orchestra 30 years ago, they become well on their way to pulling off the impossible. But as the concert draws nearer, a secret starts to reach its way to the surface, and problem after problem starts to tear apart the show.
This film brings out many emotions not only from the material but also from the music and beautiful performances. In every scene, this movie definitely deserved it’s Golden Globe nomination. Radu Mihăileanu did a great job as director, keeping the story moving at a great pace. Mihăileanu also being one of the writers of this story, gave a very compelling story that was actually more complicated then one might think. It also give you more of an idea of how desperate the Russians were and maybe still are for things we take for granted (although that may only have been depicted in one scene). Surprisingly it’s a story that will touch everyone, and you don’t have to be a music lover to appreciate the beautiful music chosen to play throughout the film. But at the heart of the story are the wonderful characters that will bring you much laughter as heart. Valeri Baranov (played Ivan Gavrilov) was terrific as the ex manager, when he comes back to help them pull off the event, little does anyone know that he has arterial motives. And although it’s only spoken a couple times, the question is can they trust him? Unfortunately I’m unfamiliar with Barinvo’s work, that’s actually the case for about 90% of the actors in this film. But on to more pressing matters, Dmitri Nazarov (played Aleksandr ‘Sasha’ Abramovich Grosman) was outstanding, stealing every scene he was in. He just knocked it out of the park, impeccable comedic timing. As for Aleksei Guskov (played Andrey Simonovich Filipov), he too preformed grandly and he is without a doubt a excellent actor, and like the previous two actors I haven’t seen him act before this film. His character hid his desire/dream to perform again for 30 years, but after getting the courage thanks to the fax, he isn’t letting anything stand in his way. But the secrets he has hidden all of these years might be the very thing to destroy any chance of conducting again. And last but not least Mélanie Laurent (played Anne-Marie Jacquet), her character has many unanswered questions about her life, but she is hoping that the music will help her understand more about her past. For those who witnessed her superb performance in “Inglourious Basterds” have a chance now to see an earlier performance that will not only capture your heart but also your soul with the emotion she put into her role. She could shortly be joining the ranks of other great French actresses like Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve.
All in all, this is a film not only for musicians, or music lovers, but also anyone who loves a great story. With this underdog story bringing laughter, drama, and a ton of heart and soul, it’s a film that will brighten up anyone’s day. With a cast that maybe unknown to most (Americans) the performances are noting less than amazing. But what might stick with you the most after is the beautiful Tchaikovsky compositions that will warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes.