Movie Review: Mrs Carey's Concert
Mrs Carey's Concert is a documentary about the journey of a girls' school as they rehearse for a musical performance at the Sydney Opera House in 2009.
It starts off slowly - a young girl Doretta is giving the solo performance of her life at the Sydney Opera House in 2007, whilst her teacher Mrs Karen Carey speaks about the difficulties in bringing the girl to this competent and indeed stunning performance.
Back at school at the MLC in Burwood, the documentary filmed over 18 months, with 120 students, follows the drama of teenage life as the girls are admonished for staying away from class, are encouraged to take leadership roles, and are tackled for being disruptive.
Mrs Carey, the musical director of the school, is a powerful force.
We witness her passion and commitment to music and teaching, her moments of self doubt when confronted by a student who simply doesn't want to be there, and her drive that brings students of initially seeming mediocre musical abilities to greatness.
It's an excellent documentary in that it's plain to see the problems Mrs Carey is presented with and whilst it is successful in conveying the tedium of rehearsals, it is also very uplifting as the practised music builds into a stunning performance.
It is the work of director and producer Bob Connolly (co-produced by Helen Panckhurst) and director Sophie Raymond, who embedded themselves at the MLC, becoming part of the furniture to capture the reality of not only the rehearsals for the concert, but the growth of the girls into responsible adults.
One of the stars is Emily Sun, a scholarship student, whose father, a composer and musician, died when she was just five.
She is a brilliant violinist but is shy and afraid to lead the orchestra.
Another is Iris Shi, whose sheer expressions of boredom are an amusement to watch.
She disrupts classes regularly and is confident in expressing her views about the futility of rehearsing for a concert in which she has no interest.
The documentary never fails to be insightful, interesting, and intimate.
The backdrop is classical music from the greats; Brahms to Verdi, Bach, Rachmaninov and Handel.
At times, particularly when it comes to the final performance at the opera house, it becomes exceptional - that high school students could produce such music is really quite moving.
The main star, however, is Mrs Carey, whether she’s telling the girls in the back to smile and be brilliant or putting her foot down to make sure a student attends rehearsals.
It's her tenacity and energy that brings the girls to their moment of glory.
This is an inspirational documentary that will probably be most loved by students of music, and by teachers and parents.
>> Three out of five stars
>> Mrs Carey's Concert opens at Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinemas (Cairns Central) on June 2. For session times and to book, visit www.eventcinemas.com.au.
Watch out at www.cairns.com.au/competitions in the next few days as we have 10 double passes to Mrs Carey's Concert to give away. Don't forget to check out the competition's terms and conditions.
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With passion : Karen Carey in a scene from Mrs Carey's Concert