Downtown Express (2012)
Set in the world of Russian immigrants living in New York City, Downtown Express uses music to explore the clash of old world values against the lure and excitement of a new country. Under the watch of his loving but overbearing father, virtuoso violinist and Juilliard student Sasha (Grammy nominee Philippe Quint) prepares for a critical recital meant to launch his career. Yet, he is increasingly drawn to the rhythms of the streets of New York, and when he meets singer-songwriter Ramona (acclaimed recording artist Nellie McKay), he joins her band, falls in love, and begins to lead a double life, careening frantically between two worlds. As his classical debut nears, Sasha must decide whether to break with his father and forge his own destiny. -- (C) Official Site … More
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Critics Consensus: The Lucky One Can't Catch a Break
– Rotten Tomatoes
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Critic Reviews for Downtown Express
The unconvincing but gently spirited "Jazz Singer" update features accomplished musicians in the lead roles; the treat is their playing, not their acting.
Everyone seems so genuinely excited to be sharing their music on film that the entire experience becomes a joyful alliance between audience and actors.
The film may be hopelessly old-fashioned, but it's hard to entirely resist its portrait of a city that not only never sleeps but also seems to be bursting with melody at every turn.
Mr. Grubin may fumble two romances and several pivotal scenes, but the energy of the streets remains safe in his hands.
The film's wide-eyed view of New York as a wonderland of harmonic diversity soon grows as tiresome as the film's trite romantic shuffling.
Whether to let go and follow your own path is a stock dilemma, and an implausibly hopeful conclusion winds up undercutting the realism of this immigrant song.
Marked by wide-eyed charm, though not particularly adroit -- a marginal pan, owing to its somewhat lazy and functional narrative. Still, its music, from Philippe Quint and Nellie McKay, absolutely sings.
"Tchaikovsky must be grabbed by the throat or it becomes sentimental," declares the paterfamilias in Downtown Express, but the character could be critiquing the very movie in which finds himself.
'Downtown Express' is a charming, if somewhat familiar, movie that becomes extraordinary because it has astonishingly good music.
The movie's final act tries, somewhat admirably, to consolidate the plot's myriad interpersonal conflicts.
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