|Alliance Francaise has new Smith Street headquarters|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 16:55|
|‘Le Concert,’ a Jewish film, is an enchanting comedy|
The Alliance Francaise toasted the talents of Irene Jacob, the star (“vedette,” in French) of Paris, with the showing of the film “Le Concert” at its new Smith Street headquarters on Friday, April 20. You may recall it had held court in the “cave” – the basement – of the Music Mansion on Congdon Street in Providence.
The audience was extremely enthusiastic about this unusual comedy, one with a poignant plotline.
The screenplay narrates the plight of a band of Jewish orchestra musicians whose careers were destroyed under the Brezhnev regime, with Soviet artists fleeing to Israel and America. Written off as “enemies of the people,” they were deprived of the stage and their instruments of expression for some 30 years. Now they have a tentative chance to visit Paris as a troupe to perform a Tchaikovsky program and redeem their lost lives and careers. The conductor rediscovers a lost love – no, not a lover, but his daughter – who will accompany him upon her violin, if they can get their act together. The comedic aspects come from the unruly, unreliable and unkempt crowd who gather in airports, subways, restaurants and hotel lobbies, making a mess of things until the final concert in a magnificent Chatelet music mansion.
Yes, “Le Concert” uses all the devices of conventional cinema to milk every sentiment and delay the denouement with all kinds of twists and turns, most of them relevant – the tug of war between the ideals of Communism and poetry, the struggles within families and among colleagues, and the desperate plights of religions and vocations, businesses and arts communities. Indeed, the script contains some moving and eloquent defenses of all these that tug on the heartstrings of memory and hope.
But this highly visual and verbal tale genuinely seemed to touch the crowd gathered at this new Alliance Francaise building, not far from the Rhode Island Statehouse with the golden “Independent Man” on the pinnacle of its dome. They stood and applauded both the movie – with a special focus on the charm and beauty of Jewish actress and singer Irene Jacob – and its music, as well as the credits explained by hosts Dominique Gregoire and Paul Lietar.
It is a Jewish film, not quite Russian and not quite French, and not at all American. You hear words in all three languages, but the performances appeal more to the eye than to the ear, more to the camera than to the subtitled text. The dark-skinned Moroccan Jews fiddle like gypsies – the Roma people. The film’s Jews, who blended into the street life of great urban centers of Russia and France, are a motley crew who come together under the romantic spell of classical music. The ultimate artists and philosophers, Jews fight their countries – to which they contribute culturally and intellectually – to revive their souls and spirits.