“Orchestra” (“Orkester”)


Screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center Chicago European Union Film Festival (3.5/5); Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10)

They say that “What happens in Vegas, stays on Vegas.” And, based on this second offering from writer-director Matevž Luzar, the same could be said for the members of a Slovenian brass band on tour in rural Austria. Told in a series of interlaced vignettes, this monochrome comedy-drama follows the exploits of these hard-partying musicians who seem more preoccupied with having a good time than with the performance they’re about to give. The story threads involve both those on tour, as well as their families left behind at home, all of whom engage in their share of comparably fun-loving but often-questionable behavior. Through the various segments, an array of revelations emerge, many of them humorous though karma-laden and not especially honorable, essentially engaging in actions that could best be summed up as adults behaving badly. The strands of this tale don’t exactly send complimentary messages or present examples of conduct particularly worth emulating, though they do spotlight the perils and consequences of comeuppance, often with hearty laughs. Not all of the sequences work equally well, but those that hit the mark do so with a clever mix of both subdued, rapier wit and raucously outrageous sight gags, along with poignant dramatic and emotional moments that give viewers pause to think. “Orchestra” may not be especially memorable cinema, though it is a modestly amusing guilty pleasure that’s a fun way of spending a few hours at the movies.