James Stewart stars as a railroad man hired to secretly carry a payroll despite his suspected connections to outlaws
Fired for hiring Jewish musicians 30 years ago, Andrei Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) is seriously down on his luck when he seizes the chance to turn the tables and produce the concert to end all concerts
Romanian-born director Radu Mihaileanu comes unstuck with this well-meaning feel-good flick set amidst the rip-roaring thrills and spills of post-communist Russia's classical music community. Aleksei Guskov plays the similarly named Andrei Filipov, a former Great Conductor now working as a lowly cleaner. How the mighty are fallen! But don't worry, it's a noble fall, because Andrei was given the boot by Brezhnev for supporting Jewish musicians, so we know he's one of the good guys...
The meat of the film is some fairly standard getting-the-old-band-back-together shtick that falls flat as often as it warms your heart. Melanie Laurent (pictured) from Inglourious Basterds is the best thing in the film, but her character is woven into the mix via some very strained plotting. The worst thing about The Concert, however, is its cornball obeisance to High Art and its power to transform and uplift. Does anybody (even if they haven't seen A Clockwork Orange) imagine for even a second that classical music is a sort of one-stop wonder-balm for all your spiritual ills?
Finally, a helpful note for readers under the age of 20: a key plot development in The Concert involves a fax. A fax is something people used to use before the internet. Sort of a cross between a photocopier and a walky talkie, a fax machine would print a copy of your document out anywhere in the world that also has a fax machine. They were kind of awful and clunky, much like this film.
A sentimental comic odyssey keen to wring tears and laughter from a script that can't sustain it, if you played classical music to your unborn child in the hopes of spawning a genius, this one's for you.
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