Le Concert

Movies
2 out of 5 stars
In which we learn, once more, that you can take utter tosh, douse it in classical music and – voilà! – you’ve got classy tosh masquerading as something meaningful. At the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, office cleaner Andrei (Aleksei Guskov) picks up a fax from the Châtelet Theatre in Paris: the LA Phil has cancelled, can the Bolshoi step in? Leaving aside the likelihood that agents would be handling these details, or indeed the sheer implausibility of such arrangements being handled solely by fax, it’s a tempting opportunity for Andrei, a once-brilliant conductor whose career was halted during the Brezhnev era for hiring Jewish musicians. So, a daring plan emerges as he rounds up his old orchestral pals and heads off to Paris posing as the Bolshoi band.

To be fair, much of this is played as bumbling comedy, but while laughter at the expense of Soviet apparatchiks, snooty French arts administrators and boozy Russian ensembles on tour is fair enough, the broad treatment of Andrei’s Romany ‘fixer’ and his light-fingered cohorts proves more uncomfortable. As the high-jinks begin to drag, director Radu Mihaileanu gamely shovels on old-fashioned melodrama, since the conductor’s also driven by the redemptive prospect of salving painful family wounds. Thankfully, Mélanie Laurent’s persuasive contribution as a glam violin soloist comes as a welcome break from Guskov’s one-note Russian melancholy, while the crisply shot climactic performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto musters enough dash to mask previous failings of credibility, taste and coherence. Resounding applause notwithstanding, there’s still much here that’s simply off-key.

By: Trevor Johnston

Posted:

Release details

Cast and crew