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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Concert (review)

This is how you get your arthouse-averse friends to watch a foreign fil-um: show them The Concert. Yes, they’ll have to read subtitles — the dialogue is in both French and Russian, though there are one or two little snippets in English — but it is just simply crammed with so much Hollywood feel-good that a studio remake is surely just around the corner, probably starring Reese Witherspoon with a French accent and Stanley Tucci pulling a Russian one. (No, wait, on the other hand, don’t tell your friends that last bit, or they’ll decide to wait for the Hollywood version.) How much Hollywood feel-good? How about smackdowns to bigotry, runarounds to bureaucracy, soaring classical music (the easy feel-good kind, not the hard discordant kind), and letting an orphan in on the feel-good secret of her lost family? See, way back in the Soviet era Andrei Simoniovich Filipov (the sad, funny Alexei Guskov) got the boot as conductor of Moscow’s Bolshoi Orchestra for — horrors! — hiring Jewish musicians. Now, he mops up the place. But when he accidentally intercepts an invitation for the orchestra — the real one, the one he can only watch from afar during his janitorial breaks — to play in Paris, he concocts a plan to get the old gang together so they can play the gig. Can they pull off impersonating an entire orchestra? Much slapstick and silliness ensues as the gruff old musicians are gathered up, retune themselves and their instruments, and hie themselves to the City of Lights, with further complications arising as Filipov tries to get famous French prodigy violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet (the charismatic Melanie Laurent: Inglourious Basterds) to accompany them. Ooo ooo ooo, and what’s the secret connection between old conductor and young virtuoso? Bring Kleenex. It’s all entirely preposterous, and very lovely.

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watch at home

MPAA: rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong language)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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