The Concert Radu Mihaileanu

The Concert Radu Mihaileanu
You know what, kudos to notably heavy-handed Radu Mihaileanu (Live and Become) for trying to make a screwball comedy. I mean that. Usually, watching his films is akin to talking religion with a group of uneducated fundamentalists, but it's nice to see him stepping outside his box a little to add a bit of pizzazz to his particular brand of preaching. The thing is, I'm not sure why anyone would think that post-communist Russia and Jewish oppression is particularly funny, broken Russian-to-French translation and all.

When not pushing a broom around, Andrei Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) faux-conducts on the balcony of the Bolshoi, dreaming of the life that Brezhnev's reign took away. Thirty years earlier, he was fired from his job as master conductor for refusing to can his Jewish musicians. But, since the impetus here is post-communist confusion and a fledgling opportunity analogy, he seizes an unlikely chance to pose as the Bolshoi at the Theatre du Chatelet when it presents, hiring back his old musicians and running off to France to play a little unrehearsed Tchaikovsky.

The comedy comes from musicians shirking their responsibilities for fiscal gain in France, running around working as cab drivers and buskers, while ex-KGB agent Ivan Gavrilov (Valeriy Barinov) looks to spread the message of Communism to France, which in itself is funny for reasons not explored in the film.

Since the characters are all essentially caricatures and the dialogue political and expository, there isn't a great deal propelling the film, aside from random conversations during shootouts and cracks about workers of the world uniting against each other. It all becomes duly laboured when a third act revelation about renowned violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet (Melanie Laurent) pleads for unearned sentimentality.

While there is some merit in dressing up politics with kooky characters and awkward language barriers, The Concert never succeeds with this tone. The comedy isn't funny and the film is little more than a series of flatly staged sequences with uniform high lighting. Some may find the final concert worth the wait, but aside from this, there's little to recommend. (eOne)