This is the first film of Radu Mihaileanu that really did it to me. It is moving, I resonated with the subject, I laughed when it was funny and I was close to tears when it meant to be emotional. Yet, as his previous films, it is not a masterpiece just a good film to remember. Which is no small matter either.


Mihaileanu’s previous films were each of them based on original and different ideas. in each of those the ideas hold above the execution. Train de vie was one of the first films to deal with Holocaust from a comic perspective, and maybe the most interesting idea of all, better even as Begnini’s maybe. Les pygmees de Carlo dealt with the communication between cultures in an unusual way.  Vas, viens, et deviens is the only movie until now to deal with the Ethiopian immigration to Israel. Here, in ‘Le Concert’ two main ideas dominate the action. One is about the new culture of vulgarity and mediocrity that dominates the life after the fall of the Communism. The main hero (wonderfully acted by Aleksei Gluskov) is a great conductor. His life and career were broken during the Communist rule for having opposed the regime of Brezhnev. Yet, the change of the social order did not put him back in place, as the collaborators of the old regime and the new oligarchs took the place of the rulers, siding the real values.  The second idea is that music redeems, transcends politics, and is worth any risks and sacrifices.

(video source OptimumReleasing)

‘Le Concert’ is correspondingly divided into two parts. The first one is a brilliant comedy, one of the best that I have seen lately. It is based on stereotypes one may argue, the stereotype of the Russians and French, of the Jews and Gypsies, of musicians and impresarios, Communists and oligarchs, but in these case they work, and the result is true and funny. The Russian orchestra of former musicians, sided away by the new times makes it to Paris under the label of the Bolshoi to give the concert of their lives, the proof that Tchaikovsky, and Russian music, and value are still there despite all. Then the second part begins, the one in which all becomes personal, with a seemingly love story which turns to be something completely different, a much more dramatic story in which music is not only revenge but also personal redemption, is not only survival but also coming from beyond the graves of a tragic history.

(video source port375)

(video source port375)

This is were the strength and the weakness of Radu Mihaileanu’s art meet. All the film converges to the final scene, the one of the concert in Paris, we know it from the beginning. All the explanation will be present in that scene, and this is the bet and the risk of any music film in the history of cinema. The result is only a partial win. Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin provides the appropriate background, and the emotional result is immediate. The doubts start after the screening ends. The situation is certainly less than credible, from an intrigue and musical point of view. Mihaileanu’s execution is too direct, he plays too much on short term emotions, tears are too apparent. He has huge ideas, and one day he may turn them into one or more great movies. ‘Le Concert’ is too explicit, it lacks the patience and the sophistication to be that one .

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