I do not really like classical music. I remember, as a kid, sitting through 2 or 3 hours of concert and finding it boring. I guess I do not have the “gift”. So I tend to avoid classical music, when it lasts for more than 10 minutes. So I was a bit skeptical when my best friend told me to watch The Concert, since it is all about the music! Released in 2009, this movie made by Radu Mihaileanu has won the Best Original Score and Best Sound awards at the César Awards in 2010. 30 years ago, Andreï Filipov was the talented conductor of the Boslhoï orchestra, before his career was abruptly terminated in the middle of a concert by Brezhnev because he had hired Jewish musicians. He now cleans the concert hall where he used to direct – the movie starts when he intercepts an invitation from the prestigious Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, and decides to reunite his old team, pose as the Bolshoï, go to Paris, and finish the Tchaikovsky concerto he never finished 30 years ago.
Language is half in Russian, half in French. It is a perfect mix between drama and comedy. A few scenes are simply hilarious: the Russians forging passport and visas at the Moscow airport, under the nose of the policemen is great. So is the arrival of the drunk Russians in Paris: as soon as they arrive they scatter and disappear, leaving the ship to do exactly the same job they were doing in Russian. Ivan Gavrilov looking for his old communist party friends is a good moment: as a French national, the communist party has slowly disappeared over the past years, and it is ironic to see this guy, nostalgic of the past, who comes to Paris hoping things can be fixed. I laughed watching effeminate Duplessis cry at the sound of music. All in all, a great use of clichés (in the right quantity) that break the tension, as the spectator is left wondering what is going to happen.
I did not care too much for Anne-Marie Jacquet, it was not a real surprise but I can appreciate it was the element that brought people together. But to me, it was a bit too obvious. But it doesn’t matter. Filipov, portrayed by Aleksey Guskov, is the star of this movie, outshining very single character. He conveys his passion, his emotions, and “brings the spectator in”.
I will not comment on the final scene, which comes as no surprise, but will just say that next time I have the occasion to go to a concert, I might see things differently. After an initial moment of stress things fall into place, and suddenly Tchaikovsky is not so difficult to listen to anymore. All in all, an excellent moment and a lot of emotion. People told me the movie was all about the music, I think it is more about the passion for music. Even just about passion. 2 hours went by, and I was left wanting more.