- 28 Jul 10
The Russian tourist board may feel aggrieved, but it's hard to argue with this thoroughly entertaining caper.
Andrei Filipov (Alexei Guskov) is a former conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, who was publicly denounced in 1980 for refusing to fire his Jewish musicians once Brezhnev’s anti-Semitic decrees kick in. As this raucous Russian comedy opens, Filipov now works as the janitor for the orchestra that used to call him maestro. But this is Russia, the last crazy capitalist frontier, a place where pensioners dub cheap porn while knitting and where Mrs. Filipov runs a business procuring extras for dwindling socialist rallies and obscenely lavish tycoon weddings. Who is to say our wronged conductor can't intercept a fax and lead a gang of rowdy Muscovites and gypsies to Paris where they can play as the Bolshoi?
An intriguing mystery subplot sees our hero track down Anne-Marie Jacquet (Inglorious Bastards' Melanie Laurent), a young French violinist for a big reveal. Ms. Laurent spent two months studying violin with Sarah Nemtanu of the Orchestre National de France and puts in a remarkably convincing performance but it’s Mr. Guskov who steals the show with a funny, heartbreaking portrait of a broken man finding a wildly happy ending.
Like many brilliant (and some not-so-brilliant) comedies, the Russian tourist board might have cause to feel aggrieved at director Mihaileaunu’s broad, knockabout portrayal of a nation of dodgy deals done dirt cheap. But it’s hard to argue with the thoroughly entertaining results.