Le Concert

21 Dec

Title: Le Concert
Year:
2010
Director:
Radu Mihaileanu
Writer:
Radu Mihaileanu, Matthew Robbins and Alain-Michel Blanc, based on a story by Héctor Cabello Reyes and Thierry Degrandi
Starring:
Mélanie Laurent, Aleksei Guskov, Miou-Miou, Dimitry Nazarov, Valerie Barinov, Francois Berléand, Lionel Abelanski, Guillaume Gallienne
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, brief strong language and some sexual content
Runtime:
119 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
58%

I think I liked Le Concert, which recently got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, more than I should have. And that was because it had Mélanie Laurent in a leading role. Ms. Laurent, you should no doubt remember, is the absolutely stunning Frenchwoman who stole scenes and hearts in last year’s Inglourious Basterds. And in this one she proves that she was no one-time fluke, as she continues to be charming in a film that evokes some very warm emotions from its audience.

The movie is indeed a bit too melodramatic at times, and it feels manipulative when it tries to get your tears, but it makes it all work, not in the least because of Ms. Laurent, who’s very skillful in her role, as are pretty much all of the actors here. For a film that starts with laughter and ends with emotional tears this one works. Plus I’ve always had a weakness for French films, and this one is really no exception.

The film deals with a conductor, Andrei Filipov, and we see him as a prominent conductor in Russia, and later we see how the administration ran by Leonid Brezhnev during communism in the 80’s tries to force him to fire any Jewish musicians serving under his orchestra. After refusing such an order we then see our conductor demoted to being a janitor in the same theater he used to command with his music, a job he continues three decades into the future, where we are now.

In the present he manages to intercept a letter to the director of the theater inviting the orchestra to play in Paris, a letter he doesn’t deliver and around which he begins to plan a comeback. He calls back former members of his orchestra, many of which are now drunks, to fly to that concert in Paris and finish the concerto the hay been on so many years ago, and there many fun shenanigans will ensue.

Once we’re in Paris is where in all the fun starts. The director has fun playing cultural stereotypes with the French and Russians and it is, of course, where we meet Anne-Marie Jacquet, Ms. Laurent’s character, a young talented French violinist who’s enlisted to join the orchestra, and who’s own past has its links to the Russian musicians. The film is obviously constructed to be a solid crowd-pleaser, and it is one, one with a helluva lot of emotions that will most certainly get to you.

Le Concert has laughs, and it has tears, and it’s just a very very good little film. The job done by Radu Mihaileanu, the director and one of the writers of this film, is tremendous. Even though he can’t avoid the melodramatic tone (let’s face it, that’s hard to do in a film in which you have so much Tchaikovsky), he can sure as hell construct a very fine story, one that shows Communism in Russia and that gets laughs from every single type of person involved. And, again, this is a film that has Mélanie Laurent speaking French and playing violin, that should more than enough to get anyone to see it.

Grade: B

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