Friday, August 6, 2010
The Concert (Le Concert)
If a group of people from all walks of lives suddenly sit together and can hold a concert as an orchestra, they are either from a fairy tale that only can be read next to a child's bed, or they have the power to create miracle. Well, that is precisely the story in a French comedy "The Concert" (Le Concert | France 2010 | in French and Russian | 107 min.).
Thirty years ago in the Communist era, a young conductor Andreï Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) is kicked out the (fictional) prestigious Bolshoi Orchestra, because he refuses to get rid of all the Jewish musicians. His musician colleagues move on to driving ambulances, making porn flicks, or patrolling flea markets. Andreï becomes a janitor to clean the Bolshoi Theater.
One day, while cleaning the office, he runs across a last-minute invitation for Bolshoi Orchestra to play at Salle Pleyel, perhaps the most famous concert hall in Paris. What Andreï does next is truly preposterous.
He puts together a "bolshoi" (большой means "grand" in Russian) scheme that nobody can believe even after plenty of vodka—he summons his old pals to pretend the Bolshoi Orchestra; flies the entire flock from Moscow to Paris with forged passports and visa; drinks and parties all night; then plays Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the famous Russian born French violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet (Mélanie Laurent), without any rehearsal. Don't you feel lucky that he is not making a bomb?
Besides the implausible plot, the repeated tacky stereotypes about Russian, Jew, gypsies, and the Communists are never funny, but only show film's petty efforts to beg for a comic moment.
However, what is remarkable is that the film is able to divert your attention away from the far-fetched plot to the beautiful classical music. From Mozart to Mahler, from Tchaikovsky to Khachaturian, the terrific soundtrack makes you sympathize these musicians. You want them to succeed, and you want the magic to happen.
The only magic in this film is the music. Everything else is pure illusion.