Mrs Carey’s Concert
The documentary opens with Doretta, an awkward-looking teenage girl, clutching to her violin, waiting for her cue at Sydney’s Opera House. She lifts the violin to her chin and starts to emotionally drags her bow along the strings, producing a sound reminiscent of visits to grandmas. I consider tweeting, “At the cinema #itsgoingtobealongnight”.
But when we’re introduced to the eccentric Mrs. Carey, who organizes a biennial concert at the Sydney Opera house by students at MLC School, I decide to give the film the benefit of the doubt. And I’m glad I did.
The whole school is involved with the concert, so we meet an array of pupils, from Emily Sun, the musical prodigy that just needs to focus her attention to be the head of the orchestra, to Iris Shi, the disinterested, bad-ass leader of the naughty kids, with an attitude that Courtney Love would be proud of.
As everyone becomes more comfortable with cameras around them, we start to see people’s true personality emerge. And with such a variety, I found myself relating to many of the students, and drawing similarities between the teachers and many of my ex-teachers – with lines something like, “When you leave school, you’ll think back to this concert and remember it”. Now that I’ve left school, I can remember my teachers saying things like that, but I can never remember what they’re about…
Many people may find Mrs. Carey inspirational. I just found her pushy, with a one-eyed worldview, centered on music – probably because I’m more like Iris. And that’s the beauty of this film, it doesn’t have a hero that you love and want to win. It has real people, who you identify with, and laugh at and get frustrated with and get you thinking about your own life, your own attitudes and your own passion.
At some points, I felt that the filmmakers were trying to make a story where there wasn’t one. But I guess that’s how it goes with documentaries. You decide you want to film something, and have to use the footage you have to make a story.
I also felt – and this is just me – that perhaps the film was a tiny bit too long and there was a bit too much music. However, if you’re a fan of classical music, they play a huge array of amazing pieces from Brahms to Rachmaninoff.
This definitely isn’t your popcorn and coke, Friday night entertainment. But it will leave you thinking, pondering and brooding for a while.
Reviewed by: Nerice