The Concert (15)

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The Independent Culture

Radu Mihaileanu's comedy drama is a certified crowd-pleaser, though one can't help thinking it might have benefited from a little restraint.

Thirty years ago Andrei Filipov (Aleksei Guskov), legendary conductor of the Bolshoi, was denounced as an "enemy of the people" for refusing to drop Jewish musicians from his orchestra. Disgrace and alcoholic ruin awaited. Now employed as a cleaner, he learns by chance that the Chatelet Theatre in Paris has invited the Bolshoi to perform there, and launches a quixotic plan to reunite his old orchestra – starting with cellist-turned-ambulance driver Sacha (Dimitri Nazarov) – for one last shot at the big time. Once the story shifts to Paris the film loosens its belt, and its grip: the ragtag musicians, bowing to their entrepreneurial Russian nature, take to the streets as hawkers and buskers, while Andrei tries to lay a ghost by asking violin virtuoso Anne-Marie (Mélanie Laurent) to perform on Tchaikovsky's violin concerto. All is resolved during the centrepiece of "the concert", wherein the music springs to life, plucking harmony from the turmoil. The humour is pretty broad in places, and its triumph-of-the-underdog spirit is overworked, but there's just enough goodwill to carry it over the line.