Concerto for Abigail | QFest St. Louis 2024

It’s not easy to make it in music, but Samantha Porter (Monica Young) is doing just that. A jazz pianist, she leads a trio (the other members are Billy Raphael as bassist Sean Lightner and Rebecca Grayce as clarinetist Claire Rosen) that’s connecting with audiences domestically and whose agent (Christine Grantz Sheppard) thinks it’s time to move up in the world with a European tour. Which would normally be great news except for some information Samantha is keeping to herself: she’s losing her hearing due to nerve damage, the condition is progressing rapidly, and there’s no treatment available to help. Her doctor (Saskia Baur), while not meaning to be cruel, advises Samantha to start adjusting to her new reality, which is the absolute last thing any musician would want to hear.

Abigail (Andrea Bogart) is an ER nurse who really likes Samantha’s music and drags a somewhat reluctant friend (Jetta Martin) to hear the Samantha Porter Trio at a local club. The friend soon finds a reason to leave, but Abigail not only stays but hits Samantha up for an autograph after the show. The other trio members see the sparks flying between the two and excuse themselves, allowing Samantha and Abigail to head out for an undeclared first date.

Two story lines are intertwined in Jan Miller Corran’s Concerto for Abigail—one about how Samantha deals with losing her hearing and the threat this poses to her career, the other about the developing relationship between Samantha and Abigail. The former is a case study is accepting unpleasant news, trying to decide when and how to tell people, and figuring out what to do when it seems that everything you’ve worked for will be snatched away and there’s nothing you can do about it. The latter is a more conventional story about two attractive people who are really into each other but have some things to deal with, including Samantha’s stress over the impending loss of her vocation. The combination makes for a film that is enjoyable enough to watch, even if it doesn’t dig terribly deep, and is certainly very nice to look at.

I have no inside information on this score, but Concerto for Abigail feels like a low-budget production with a mix of expert and less than expert actors and a limited number of locations that seem chosen because they were available. Still, cinematographer Cameron Schmucker makes it all look great, and the well-written soundtrack by Kanoa Wolfe-Doblin enhances the viewing experience.  Plus, you know, the lead actors are really good looking and have great chemistry together.

Concerto for Abigail won three awards at the New York International Film Festival—Best Cinematographer for Cameron Schmucker, Best LGBTQ Film for Corran, and Best Acting Duo for Young and Bogart—and an Art Film Spirit Award—Best Female Director for Curran.

The QFest screening of Concerto for Abigail is Friday, April 26 at 7:30 pm. It will be preceded by the QFest kickoff reception from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, and the director and three actors from the film will be present. | Sarah Boslaugh

Qfest 2024 runs April 26-28 and May 3-5 at the Hi-Pointe Theatre (1005 McCausland Ave, St Louis). Information about programming, ticket prices and passes is available from the festival web site.

One comment

  1. I do agree that the score is magnificent. Low budget doesn’t mean low quality. I have seen both the lead actresses and others in other major motion pictures and TV. I mean Andrea Bogart was even Chandler Bing’s girlfriend on Friends plus played opposite Jude Law and others. Monica Young has a long film history. Both are winning continued acting awards for the film as it now has won the Los Angeles Film Fest and will screen there in June at LA Live Theatres. I saw this film at Qfest and loved it. Truly loved it. With so many awful Lgbt films out there it was a joy to watch a film with a clear story, beautiful music, actresses who are outstanding, and no kids coming of age and suddenly gay. Hope you saw it on the big screen because it was a WOW!

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