Mainstream American cinema is often too restricted to explore unique, genre-blending ideas. Whenever someone utters, “There aren’t any new or original ideas in film anymore,” I suggest they start thinking outside the Hollywood – or American – box.
Over 30 years ago, Andrei conducted the Bolshoi Orchestra, Russia’s most prestigious and well-known orchestral group. With many members of the orchestra being Jewish, during a KGB insurgence Andrei and his entire orchestra were given the boot for being Jewish sympathizers. Now, the closest Andrei can get to the Bolshoi is cleaning their theater.
While cleaning the empty office one day, Andrei intercepts an incoming fax for the current conductor – a special invitation for the Bolshoi to perform at the renowned Châtelet Theater in Paris. Instead of leaving the invitation for the real Bolshoi, Andrei comes up with the cockamamy idea to steal the fax, begin correspondence with the French, gather his previous orchestra, travel to Paris, impersonate the Bolshoi and put on the best the concert that they never got to perform.
While the quirky and playful first half of The Concert is all about getting the band back together and working out the kinks getting them to Paris, the second half is where the huge heart lies. Andrei convinces the head of the Châtelet Theater to arrange for France’s finest violinist (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds) to accompany them, a woman absolutely clueless to her life-changing connections to Andrei and the Bolshoi.
Quirky, comedic, playful and tender, The Concert lies in that vein of films that Hollywood rarely produces. While the story is original and the performances are superb, the profit that small unique movies like The Concert yield in America doesn’t come close to the carbon-copy cash cows they are used to pumping out.
If you are looking for a refreshing little feel-good film to see this weekend, please consider The Concert. Yes, it’s in French with English subtitles – but couldn’t we all use a little more culture in our lives? If you fell in love with Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds, The Concert will give your fill of Laurent until her next American release, The Beginners, starring opposite Ewan McGregor.
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company