Only few people can get away with playing Tchaikovsky. He was a genius composer, and who ever dares touch his material must be well-prepared for rough criticism. Romanian-born director Radu Mihaileanu decided to make it all about the Russian composer in his latest film Le Concert. He sought out some good actors — but did his choice in cast help him make a good French/Russian film? Let’s find out…
- Director: Radu Mihaileanu
- Writers: Radu Mihaileanu (scenario), Matthew Robbins (collaboration) and Alain-Michel Blanc (collaboration), Héctor Cabello Reyes (original story) and Thierry Degrandi (original story)
- Cast: Aleksei Guskov, Mélanie Laurent, Dimitry Nazarov, Valeri Barinov, François Berléand, Miou-Miou, Lionel Abelanski, Guillaume Gallienne
Le Concert centers around Andrei Simoniovich Filipov (Guskov), who conducted the famous Bolshoi orchestra 30 years ago, but was fired for hiring Jewish musicians. Now he’s getting a second chance at finishing what he started. The Chatelet Theater in Paris invites the current Bolshoi orchestra to perform, when Filipov finds out, he decides to gather his former musicians, and young virtuoso Anne-Marie Jacquet (Laurent). Filipov heads to Paris in hopes of putting on a great concert.
- Mélanie Laurent: This actress was made internationally-famous by Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds, and rightfully so. She delivers a strong performance as the young virtuoso/solo violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet. She shows versatility and proves once again that she’s one of the best young actress working in the business today.
- Aleksei Guskov: If anyone can show the internal struggles of a has-been famous conductor, it’s Guskov. The audience will find themselves moved by Guskov and sympathizing with him. He is the window into Le Concert. Whatever he goes through, we go through with him. He gives an outstanding performance; one worthy of tears, just saying.
- The Concert: The actual concert in Le Concert is one of those chill-giving scenes that aren’t easily forgotten. I cried twice. Yes, it’s long, but the concert is magical. The Bolshoi orchestra play a Tchaikovsky concerto worthy of a standing ovation, even if the concerto isn’t live.
- Length?: Some of the scenes went on too long (though none with Laurent or Guskov ever felt too long). Although the performances and the music make up for it along the way, some of it could’ve been cut down by eliminating some of the sub-plots, which didn’t make sense with the overall story. Primarily the Valeri Barinov subplot where he is overly obsessed at dining at a certain restaurant in Paris – the film would have been better without it.
Watching a French film is like watching a Tarantino movie because there are certain expectations, and needs to be met. Le Concert owned up to every single expectation. Even though the plot wasn’t completely original, the performances shaped the story to the point that everything felt on key. The real star of the show was, of course, the music; this film will have you trading in your pop, indie, rock, or whatever records for symphonies of the Romantic Era. The film runs about 15-minutes too long, but the ending makes up for it. The best non-live concert, I’ve ever seen.
Le Concert opened today June 16, 2010 in limited release.