Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Release Review: Mrs. Carey's Concert (Bob Connelly, Sophie Raymond, 2011)

Quite surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. Carey's Concert, despite having no musical talents or interest in any form for such participation. I also could not relate to any of the central protagonists, the hardened and firm music director, Mrs. Karen Carey, the talented violinist Emily Sun (the 2009 soloist), or the undisciplined and unmotivated student, Iris. Still, I was engaged throughout and enjoyed the experience. This insightful and inspirational documentary flows beautifully, and is an interesting account into the immense work that is put into the annual concert at the Sydney Opera House by the students at Sydney's MLC School. As a tribute to the dedication of the students, teachers and filmmakers alike, you can read the relief and visibly see the emotion on all of their faces at the conclusion of the concert. In the audience, you feel it too.

Within all of the captured footage, acclaimed director Bob Connelly (a multiple AFI winner) and his colleague Sophie Raymond have pieced together a relatively compelling journey, which sees these young girls grow and mature, overcome frustrations, low self-esteem, self-doubt, misbehaviour and bullying to create an incredible performance. These girls, in addition to their rehearsals, are actually completing the same studies as any other school, so the pressure we see them often succumb to, is genuine exhaustion and frustration. While Mrs. Carey's firm attitude to discipline and encouragement often portrays her in an unlikable light, her lofty expectations, her passion for music and her commitment to these children, this ragtag gang of privileged girls, cannot be faulted. The results during the lengthy coverage of the final concert speak for themselves.

There were times when the film was stretched to fill time with unnecessary drama, often pulling it from unlikely places and targeting one particular girl (Iris, the disinterested and unmotivated student) to heighten the tormented process of building the concert. The story of Emily Sun is certainly the most inspirational, after she is selected to be the soloist. The responsibility placed on her shoulders and the level of competency expected by Mrs Carey, takes a toll on the young girl, but she overcomes such obstacles with amazing poise. Cut into the inspiring and excellent final performance, the concert the entire school had been working towards all year, is the drama of Mrs. Carey's misplacement of her sheet music. While we build a rapport and hold hope for the success of these girls, we care little for banalities such as this. This is only a minor criticism, however. Overall, this rousing achievement is an ode to the transformative effect of music, passion, dedication and success.

My Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (B-)


  1. I haven't heard of this film before... it sounds intriguing, especially after I've seen "As It is in Heaven" last month. I can recommend it, if you like musical films (not musicals).

  2. It's had a very small release in Sydney!

    It's a doco about the annual concert at the Sydney Opera House by a Sydney girls school. It's playing at my cinema, and has been a community favourite. Bob Connelly is a great filmmaker, so it was pretty good! I haven't heard of the film you mentioned. Thanks for the recommendation, though!

  3. you may be interested to hear that the film "Mrs. Carey's Concert" is starring in an Australian Film Week at the 3 major cinemateques in Israel and is being received very enthusiastically.
    I personally was very moved by the emotional perspective integrated into the music performances.

  4. I am gad to hear that the film is doing so well overseas. It is an inspirational story and quite a profound insight into the youth of Australia and the immense talent they possess. Thanks for stopping by Sandra.