The Concert Radu Mihaileaunu

The Concert Radu Mihaileaunu
Before accepting The Concert as a comedy, it's important to know that director Radu Mihaileaunu has an auteur history of making very pointed films about issues. Live and Become tackled religious persecution and hypocrisy by creating a story from the recognition of Ethiopian Falashas as Jews and Train of Life made comedy out of Jews organizing a fake deportation train to escape from Nazis and flee to Palestine in 1941. His attempts at narrative tend to be clumsy, pedagogical stabs at political preaching, which is fine, but not necessarily conducive to comic mayhem. This particular stab at manic, whimsical comedy finds a group of aged musicians impersonating the Bolshoi orchestra at the Chatêlet Theater in Paris when a renowned conductor turned janitor – fired 30 years prior for having Jews in his orchestra – intercepts a request from the French for them to perform. Amidst a backdrop of corrupt political campaigns and high society mobster employers, The Concert plays out as a slightly fantastical comedy of broken opportunity in post-Communist Russia. Financial arrangements for the trip to France are made during a gunfight at a wedding and the many Gypsies and non-secular Jews that agree to play in the orchestra run amok in France, exploiting the many opportunities for capitalistic gain. More succinctly, every gag has a very specific point to make and as such, often feature actors desperately reaching for laughs with wide eyes and ridiculous emphases, which winds up being the opposite of funny. Amidst this tedious noise there are some wonderful musical performances and a minor underlying message about the connective spirit of music and art. Unfortunately, this is all there is to appreciate amidst the constant preening and preaching, aside from the presence of the occasional European musician as a secondary player. No supplements are included with the DVD, which isn't much of a surprise. (eOne)