I like Cesar winners(2009 many cesars) almost as much as Ilike I like cannes winners. They have a different populist french quality to them. they are almost a window to the race and color prejudice and all french soul..like france’s own tea party revolting against paris’s discriminating tastes and centuries of cultivated culture and arts. So When a Daredenne bros film is all pure cinema and verite in politically correct upliftment moliere would be proud of, Gerad depadeau reprising cyrano or the unruly ragtag of schoolboys singing alto under a reforming outsider-teacher in the Chorus somehow captures , for me the Peasant from the provinces that grew your champagne grape, now rubbing his dirty nose against the window of your paris cafe- feel That is the white france you can tour when you pay full price for your hotels and wine.
So, Here, to the Chatelet theater , comes a delightful little concert film. Tchaicovsky violin concerto nr 1 D major- 1878(played here in the sample by jascha heifetz). If youve heard it (famous first movement) you’ll be struck by how similar it is to Brahm’s equally famous violin concerto (also in D major also 1878) played here by issac stern. My personal opinion is that the tchaicovsky has always sufferred by comparison to the more…connected…brahms work, although there is no denying the slight baying and howl in tchaikovsky’s violin compositions. maybe the music needs to be played by more russian orchestras mwho get tchaikovsky better than the cold western european types. Which brings us to le Concert because really, the best way to bring back the leftist arts is to talk classical music to a bunch of french pesants and appeal to their sense of right about the plight of the post peristroika bolshoi musician..which is UGLY if people weren’t smart enough to work out patronage from the criminal dons that took over in the yeltsin era in moscow. But le concert is much more than a redemptive story of great musicains gone to alchoholism and ruin( The great conductor of thirty years ago is now a janitor at the Bolshoi theater. His prima donna cellist is an ambulence driver. His violinist is now a gypsy living in the open and playing dance tunes. ) It is also constructed as a deeply personal story of the parentage of the high arts in western europe.
Melanie Laurent Plays (an Ann sophie mutter-ish) Soloist Ann Marie Jaquet whose glacial reserve melts as she comes to understand that her past is inextricably tied to this falling apart orchestra of drunks impersonating the Bolshoi Orchestra for a one night only performance at the chatelet theater.( The Lead – conductor Andrei Philippov, played by Alexi Guskov with effortless ease , recruits an old communist fixer to be their business manager in the scheme). As the film wears on the intensely personal stories of the orchestra in perdition morphs into more intensely personal stories of WHY the orchestra got there- from Breznevian anti semetic intrigue(paris is noo longer anti semetic, the film assures us..(my note: nope. just anti muslim and racist, these days) There’s a synagogue on every street corner) to the deep dark reason why the whole orchestra seems emotionally fixated with a violinist called “lea” and the aformentioned tchaicovsky’s first violin concerto(it seems vital to philippov that Only Ann MArie Jacquet play it..even if she has never played Tchaikovsky as part of her reportoire.
.A good concert movie needs a great climactic classical piece. Often They fill the action in the climax by intercutting to the plot’s climax(such as in Hitchcock’s North by northwest, where the cymbal is a signal for a climactic event) This film does not disappoint. The high point is not only the first movement but also the whole emotional catharsis of every performer/charecter as the climax reveals truths from the past. a fifteen minute excersice in focus and delivery makes le concert transcend music and cinema and reach out to the viewing public for a memorable cathartic experience. the film was produced by the weinstin company for $18 million.