Tuesday, 25 June 2013


“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” - Laozi

When one travels the routine is disrupted and one’s schedule is thrown somewhat awry. This is especially the case with work trips that are often rushed and leave one little available time for oneself. Having said that, here’s the usual Monday Movie review, slightly belated. We watched this movie last weekend and it was just right for us at the time as it combined humour with pathos, poignancy with satire. We enjoyed it thoroughly and we recommend it for viewing.

It is Radu Mihaileanu’s 2009 film “The Concert” starring Aleksey Guskov, Dmitriy Nazarov and Mélanie Laurent. It is a European collaborative production with contributions from France, Italy, Romania, Belgium and Russia, with the soundtrack in Russian and French. The scenario is by Radu Mihaileanua and Alain-Michel Blanc, based on a story by Héctor Cabello Reyes and Thierry Degrandi.

The story begins in Moscow, where the former conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra Andrey Simonovich Filipov is now, 30 years later, the cleaner of the theatre. Andrey fell in disgrace with the Communist Party for protecting the Jewish musicians of the orchestra and was forbidden to ever conduct an orchestra again. One night while cleaning the present orchestra director’s office, Andrey reads a just-received fax and inspired by its contents, he hides the document. The fax is from the Châtelet Theatre in Paris, which has just invited the Bolshoi Orchestra to perform a concert in Paris within two weeks.

Andrey shows the fax to his friend and cello player Aleksandr ‘Sasha’ Abramovich Grosman who now drives an ambulance and together they decide to reunite fifty-five former musicians of the Bolshoi Orchestra to travel to Paris and perform The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This is to be done secretly as they will impersonate the current Bolshoi Orchestra, which is no longer up to international standard playing.

Andrey invites the Communist leader and former KGB man, Ivan Gavrilov, to manage the orchestra and he requests from the French organisers for the orchestrea to stay in Paris for three days and the prominent violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet to play the solo violin part. When the Russians arrive in Paris, Andrey meets Anne-Marie while the musicians go wild wandering around the city, partying but also raising money by doing odd jobs. The unprofessionalism of the Russian musicians forces Anne-Marie to call off the concert; but Sasha convinces her to come to the theatre.

Meanwhile Andrey reminisces an incident with the violinist Lea thirty years ago and he struggles to keep hiding a secret from Anne-Marie. Meanwhile, the real Bolshoi Orchestra director comes to paris with his family on holiday and sees advertisements for the Bolshoi concert. Will he interfere? What is the connection between Andrey and Anne-Marie? Will Andrey find his wandering musicians? Will the concert go ahead? Will Andrey be able to conduct after all these years without even a single rehearsal?

The film is well produced and directed and the acting is wonderful – especially the bumbling orchestra members, the caricatured Russian officials and the exasperated Frenchmen who are trying desperately to raise cash with this special concert. The music as one would expect is wonderful and Tchaikovsky’s score is supplemented by Armand Amar’s original incidental music. It was an enjoyable and often touching film.


  1. Thank you for yet another recommendation. This one certainly gathers my interest!

  2. This sounds like my kind of movie ... thanks for the review!

  3. I'm not a big fan of classical music and I thought I woudl not enjoy this. But it was a great movie.

  4. This was a fantastic movie and I agree with your review Nick.