French movie 12 – Le concert (2009)

The concert (R. Mihaileanu, 2009)

Friday 01 July at 9:30pm, Piazza Ferrario, Ispra

Thirty years ago, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, the renowned conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians. Now a mere cleaning man at the Bolshoi, he learns by accident that the Châtelet Theater in Paris invites the Bolshoi orchestra to play there. He decides to gather together his former musicians and to perform in Paris in the place of the current Bolshoi orchestra. As a solo violin player to accompany his old Jewish or Gypsy musicians he wants Anne-Marie Jacquet, a young virtuoso. If they all overcome the hardships ahead this very special concert will be a triumph.

Why you should see that movie :

An explosion of desperate comedy, melancholy drama and passion

The Concert is a French/ Italian/Romanian/Belgian production shot in Moscow and Paris. The publicity blurb says that the musical finale is worth the ticket price alone, but I would say even reading the list of exotic names floating over the opening credits is worth a good percentage of the price.

We travel back 30 years to when Andrei, talented young conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, was humiliated and sacked by Breshnev for refusing to get rid of his Jewish musicians. Fast forward to the present, and we find him still working at the Bolshoi – but as a cleaner. One lucky day he finds himself alone with the office fax machine. What follows is an audacious plot to get his old sidekicks to Paris, using borrowed instruments, hired suits and fake passports, posing as the real Bolshoi for a concert at the Theatre du Chatelet. If you can imagine a story as full of colour and drama as the TV rock ‘n’ roll serial epic Tutti Frutti, jammed into just one cinema experience, this could be it. It’s rare to see so many set pieces in one film.

I laughed out loud once or twice – and if you know what a grumpy old man I am you would realise what that means. I was also moved to tears, but I’m not telling you why. That would spoil it all – just saying that under its layer of manic fast-cut comedy the story carries a deep, dark and passionate secret which gradually reveals itself as the comedy peels off. The music is, I have to add, beautiful – whether it’s Roma dance jigs in the street or Tchaikovsky in the concert hall. Bring a hanky!

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