Movie review: ‘The Concert’

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

“The Concert” moves from rowdy, broad comedy to shameless heart-tugging, but Romanian writer-director Radu Mihaileanu keeps this French production flowing buoyantly, skittering past all manner of improbabilities.

Aleksei Guskov stars as Andrei Filipov, celebrated conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, who in 1980 defies an order to dismiss all his Jewish musicians and as a result is demoted to janitor. Three decades later, he’s still working as a custodian when he intercepts an e-mail to the Bolshoi director inviting the orchestra to perform at Paris’ Theatre du Châtelet. Sensing an opportunity for a comeback, Filipov gathers former colleagues and other musicians — and heads for Paris with his makeshift symphony.

Mihaileanu contrasts the indulgent lives of the nouveau riche with the hard-scrabble existence of ordinary Muscovites and plays affectionately with ethnic stereotypes, while also driving home the virulence of Brezhnev-era anti-Semitism.

Once at the Châtelet, Filipov insists that the director (François Berléand) engage top young French violinist Anne-Marie Jacques (" Inglourious Basterds’” Mélanie Laurent). More shenanigans in Paris give way to an unexpected and highly emotional subplot.

The film’s stars rise to the occasion admirably, and among the supporting players, Dmitri Nazarov as Filipov’s big, beefy sidekick is especially endearing.

“The Concert.” MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content. In French and Russian with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. At the Landmark, West Los Angeles.