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The Concert: A discordant mix of elements

A scene from The Concert

2 out of 4 stars


A French-Russian co-production, The Concert takes a rare look at the suppression of Jewish musicians under the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, Radu Milhaileanu's sentimental comedy about an orchestra of Russian musical rejects that fakes its way into a prestigious Parisian gig is a discordant mix of melodrama and chaotic farce.

Sad-eyed Andrei Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) is a middle-aged janitor at the Bolshoi Theatre where 30 years before, he was the orchestra's conductor, before being sacked for refusing to expel Jewish and Roma (Gypsy) musicians. Andrei sees an opportunity for vindication when a fax arrives from Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet, asking the Bolshoi to fill in for a last-minute cancellation.

Soon, Andrei and his bearish cello-playing buddy, Sacha (Dmitri Nazarov), round up the old musicians from their menial jobs, secure fake passports and head off to Paris. Helping out is the former Soviet apparatchik, Ivan (Valeri Barinov), who is negotiating with French booking agents in florid French, while the crudely stereotyped musicians - deal-making Jews and criminal Roma - run riot through the Parisian boulevards.

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Running counterpoint to the crude slapstick is a weepy melodrama about Andrei's link to a beautiful young French soloist,Anne-Marie Jacquet (Mélanie Laurent of Inglorious Basterds). The film's last real revelation comes during a performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, alternating between shots of the violinist's flying fingers and black-and-white flashbacks that fill in the brutal historical notes.

The Concert

  • Directed by Radu Milhaileanu
  • Written by Radu Milhaileanu, Matthew Robbins and Alain-Michel Blanc
  • Based on a story by Hector Cabello Reyes and Thierry Degrand
  • Starring Aleksei Guskov and Melanie Laurent
  • Classification: NA

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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