Thirty years after being sacked for hiring Jewish musicians, former Bolshoi orchestra conductor Andrei Simoniovich Filipov (Aleksei Guskov) is reduced to cleaning floors in the Bolshoi Theatre. One day he discovers a Parisian theatre has invited the orchestra to play... and hatches a plan to reform his old troupe and head to the City of Lights for a very special concert, in this warm, affecting soufflé starring Inglourious Basterds' Melanie Laurent.
Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu's charmer The Concert is a feel good treat that hits all the right notes, weaving satire, slapstick, and sentiment into a symphony of satisfaction.
Opening in Moscow , the film has fun ridiculing post-Soviet Russia , where old Party stalwarts hire rent-a-crowds to disguise how dead Communism really is and gangster oligarchs hire the same crowds to one-up rivals on attendance to spoiled daughters' weddings.
Amidst the taken-for-granted barminess and crumbling walls Guskov's Filipov dreams of redemption and return to the Bolshoi, seeing an opportunity when the Paris invite arrives.
Riffing on The Blues Brothers (and echoing the underrated British gem Brassed Off) Filipov must convince his one-time orchestra turned blue-collar zombies or street-performing gypsies to reunite and follow him across Europe .
Once in Paris events takes a more dramatic turn as Filipov insists violin superstar Anne-Marie Jacquet (Laurent) lead the orchestra to right a thirty year wrong.
But, the film still tickles the funny bone with orchestra manager and dyed-in-the-wool Commie Ivan (Barinov) delighting at how alive the movement is in well-off France, and a Russian oligarch cellist playing hardball over Russian TV rights with the French organisers ("We could just turn off your oil. Ask Germany").
Not everything hits its mark; Mihailenau doesn't know what to do with the other members of the orchestra when they hit French soil so sends them on half-realised madcap adventures, and a dinner date between Filipov and Anne-Marie topples into melodrama.
But, come the titular finale, when memories of the Iron Curtain are replaced with the red curtain and Tchaikovsky booms through the speakers it's impossible not to be swept along by the film's huge emotional punch that still makes room for a good three or four laugh-out-loud gags.
Get Russian to see it.