The Concert is the story about Andrei Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) a once revered Russian orchestra conductor whose career was destroyed during a performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Violin Concerto when he was sacked and humiliated mid performance for hiring Jews. 30 years later and Andrei now works as a janitor in the Bolshoi desperate to relive his former glory and he gets his chance when he devises a crazy scheme to impersonate the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, with his former colleagues, when he’s cleaning one night he intercepts a fax invite from Paris to perform at the Chatelet Theater. And so like the Blues Brothers he attempts to get the band back together to finish the concert they were destined to play.
Andrei’s plan also includes convincing an acclaimed French violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet (the wonderful Melanie Laurent from Inglourious Basterds) to play with his impostor orchestra for mysterious motives other than needing a very talented lead to play the key parts to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and as the film develops we get to understand the real connection between Anne-Marie Jacquet and Andrei’s Orchestra 30 years before.
The Concert is a highly enjoyable, fun, comedy drama with humour that swings between touching commentary, cheeky satire and wackiness that although doesn’t try to cut too savagely into it’s communist history it does enjoy poking fun at the KGB especially in the character of Ivan Gavrilov (Valeri Barinov) who desperately clings onto a highly romanticized view of what life was like under communist rule who in-turn offers the newly reformed orchestra its only chance of getting out of Russia to Paris for the concert.
The Concert has a wonderful pacing and although it slows down a bit in the middle after the raucous troop descend onto Paris descending into a drunken crowd who vanish into the Paris city with no intention of performing at the Concert leaving Andrie in the lurch, the film does picks up considerably when Anne-Marie becomes more involved into the story and although she has a small amount of screen time her presence is clearly noticeable and memorable as her past comes to link with Andrei’s desperate mission of completing the Concert and achieving the ultimate harmony for over 30 years, as long as he can find his missing orchestra.
Radu Mihaileanu directs wonderfully and the entire cast offer something truly brilliant, not all the jokes work but there is more than enough to keep you amused throughout and even more touching storylines to give your heart a tug. The music is hugely enjoyable and to read that Melanie Laurent had to learn how to play violin from scratch was remarkable as she looked completely at ease with the movement and characteristics of playing the instrument that suited her role and did not look out of place. The Concert is full of likable characters and some excellent musicians who offer something uniquely musical and funny in equal doses that help make the film so watchable, you can’t help but smile when they start playing together.
Now the moment that makes the Concert so incredibly memorable and pure cinematic satisfaction. The combination of perfect poignant acting and the most spine tingling engaging music of Tchaikovsky mixed with some heart-rending flashbacks that explain the past and some heart warming flash-forwards showing the future of the group whilst the Concert reaches its crescendo that perfectly concludes every aspect of the film in the most satisfying and touching way I could possibly imagine and probably provides one of the greatest movie endings I can remember of recent years and one that for me propels the film into greatness, Encore indeed.
The Concert is out on the 16th July, I cannot recommend it enough.