A high point of this summer's feel good movie opening this week is surely a superb Tchaikovsky concerto performed unrehearsed in Paris by a hilarious rag tag bunch of Russian musicians posing as the famed Bolshoi Orchestra. If you believe in such miracles, or can laugh at the conceit, The Concert, written and directed by Radu Mihaileanu, is for you.
The mastermind of this prank, Andrei Filipov (Alexei Guskov) is now a janitor, but in his prime as orchestra conductor, he was fired for defending his Jewish performers. This historic detail from Brezhnev's regime provides a resonant backstory, bringing the orchestra together with a young Parisian violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet (a radiant Melanie Laurent) who yearns only for the watchful eyes of her parents, thinking they died in an accident.
The acclaimed French actress and director Melanie Laurent is best known in the U.S. for her performance in the movie Inglorious Basterds. Last week, I chatted briefly with her on the phone about her roles as violinist and as Jewish survivor of various oppressions, Quentin Tarantino, and her future films.
You play the violin so beautifully in this film. As far as I know, you are not a violinist. How did this role come to you?
ML: The director chose me. I met him three times to speak about the script. He chose someone else who could not play the violin. The role was a big challenge involving much training. She dropped out. My performance is fake except for the right hand. The left hand is a special effect. It's a lot of work to learn fake movements.
Your role as Anne-Marie Jacquet in The Concert is very similar to Shosanna Dreyfus in Inglorious Basterds. Are you being type cast as the Jewish orphan?
ML: I did The Concert before Inglorious Basterds. By coincidence the two characters are close: very strong women focused on one thing, fragile, artistic. Shosanna is focused on movies, Anne-Marie on classical music. That they are Jewish is important for me, and playing the violin evoked my inner Slavic emotion.
How was the shooting, working with such a strange, eccentric group?
ML: They shot the Russian parts and then arrived in Paris to film the concert in the Theatre du Chatelet. No one spoke English or French. It was "hi," "hi," exactly as it is in the movie.
Will we see you in more movies soon?
ML: After Inglorious Basterds I did Round Up. My next movie is with Ewan McGregor, Beginners to be released in 2011.
You have received several awards for your acting, including the 2007 Cesar Rising Star Award. While you were not nominated last year, Inglorious Basterds was up for several Oscars. Were you excited?
ML: Quentin invited me to the Oscars. I was in a play so I couldn't go. I went on the Japan tour. We had a great time. I was disappointed he did not win for his script.
Was there any truth to the rumor that you were romantically involved with Quentin during the making of Inglorious Basterds?
ML: Is that what people said? With Quentin? That's funny.
This post also appears on Gossip Central..
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