DIRECTOR:                     DENIS DERCOURT
COUNTRY:                     FRANCE 1998
MUSIC:                           Classical Music
CAST:                             Pierre Lacan, Marc Citti, Marie-Christine Laurent, Serge Renko, Wilfred Benache, Clementine Benoit, Henri Garcin, Philippe Clay, Ivry Gitlis, Sonia Manka, Faudel
SUPER FEATURES:       The music and the fun.

(Seen at the 22nd Portland International Film Festival, in Portland, Oregon)

One of the nice things about French film, is the attitude "I don't care", which not only pervades film, but also all the other arts. What does this
mean when it comes to the making a film about music and its players? That you are in for a very entertaining evening of fun. When the music is not being played, the subtleties of characterizations are brought out in the very independent attitude that many actors have. This film takes that for all it's worth. And for you and I sitting in the audience, be ready for a crazy evening.

This is not a film, like Fellini's ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL, which is a farce that gets out of hand, but it makes one point. Even the eccentric musicians, with their personal lives, are not professionals to the point where they can leave it all behind for a few minutes to create something really wonderful for the audience, be it us, or any other.

THE FREELANCERS, is a romp. And what it comes down to, is a story of a group of musicians that get hired for various events. Roberto has hired his friends, and those he considers best in the orchestra they are a part of, to do a concert in a mansion, for some rich old man. What he doesn't tell anyone, until the end, is that he had been asked to bring a famous Viennese Chamber Orchestra, and not the 6 people he has decided on. Presumably, he will tell the audience that they are soloists, from that famed group. Alas, the old man seems to be in on this. Out in the country, no one ever gets good music, and the old man is trying to make sure his friends get to see some, and he himself gets the pleasure of listening in to the rehearsals, which is his favorite pastime. The old man is almost deaf, but not when it comes to hearing the music.

In between, we have the usual array of egos and problems, specially during rehearsals. The director, a famous Austrian conductor is having second thoughts and even his mistress is having a hard time getting him to come. Eventually he does, but it appears he only stays for one rehearsal, which he conducts very well, despite his desire to deal with professionals, and obviously not just hackers, or at least one of his students, for whom this appears to be a favor. Several rehearsals are done with one member or another missing for various reasons, the most legitimate of which happens to be Therese who is eight and a half months pregnant. By whom, it is in doubt until later, although we find that one of the members is the father, if any of his signs are the indications. Diane, is a novice and is taking violin lessons from a master. She can never get the feeling right for him. The clarinetist, does not read music at all, and has to take a crash course in learning it from Therese, whom he has taken a liking for, and probably hopes to be able to connect with in the future. It is here that we discover that the old man is in the middle of all this. He selected the clarinetist to join them. And the clarinetist tells the group in the first rehearsal that everyone should just play, and all they have to do is tell him what to do and he will do it. The viola player has a problem with the cellist, who in turn has a problem with the double bass.

These skirmishes never stop, until the music is on. And one of the best moments is when each takes a turn conducting the group and each one's feelings define the quality of what they are playing. They may not be as famous as the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, but what the heck, they can play. And they do. And it gets them a new deal, too. But that's another story.

A very funny film, that is obviously written and directed by someone that really knows the intricacies in music and what is required for it to create the awe and feeling that we buy into when we see these things. There are not many film people that know how to work with music, and this film shows how it's done, even if the subject matter is closely related. The French film industry, probably has created some of the best films when it comes to music, when one looks at things like TOUS LES MATINS DU MONDE, UN COEUR EN HIVER, THE ACCOMPANIST, where music is so important, and so well defined and worked on. This film, though a comedy, really fits in that group as very enjoyable, and a true experience, when it comes to the value and beauty of the music and its definition. Worth seeing, by all means.

Excellent work all around, even including some Iranian musicians that put on a fabulous couple of minutes, even though it is in a kitchen. It is the only contrast that is out of place, but shows one of the musicians in the group the value of music. From that point on, he is no longer a prima donna.

Well directed. Nicely defined vision and work.





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