Downtown Express tells a classic story of youthful rebellion, but tells it with a unique voice: through music. Set in the world of Russian immigrants living in New York City, Downtown Express explores the ways that old world values inevitably clash with the lure and excitement of a new country.
The film stars two acclaimed musicians: Philippe Quint, a Grammy-award nominated virtuoso, classical violinist, and Nellie McKay, a singer-songwriter whose songs, part jazz, part sparkly pop, are noted for their wit and quirky humor. Quintʼs role in Downtown Express marks the first time that a classical musician has been featured as the lead in an American film.
The story turns on the conflict between Sasha (Quint), a young Russian violinist on a scholarship to Juilliard, and Vadim, his loving but overbearing father, a cellist determined to foster his son’s career as a classical musician.
They live with Sasha’s cousin Arkady (Ashley Springer), crammed into a small apartment in a Russian immigrant enclave in Brooklyn. Sasha has a temporary student visa, but Vadim and Arkadyʼs visas have lapsed, and the threat of arrest hangs over them.
While Sasha and Marie (Carolyn McCormick), his pianist-teacher, prepare for a critical recital to launch Sashaʼs career, Sasha is increasingly drawn to the rhythms of the streets of New York. When he meets Ramona (Nellie McKay), a singer-songwriter, 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, as the children of immigrants must often do, or forge his own destiny.
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