Overlong. Could have been trimmed by lopping off the unnecessary first third. Thereafter, you’d have an elegant two hour insight into the machinery of creating and presenting a musical in 1880s England (specifically, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”). As it is, the film is larded down by wholly unnecessary scenes, including a lengthy exposition of a rift between Gilbert and Sullivan; introduction of Gilbert’s parents, who have nothing to do with the plot or, it seems, Gilbert; and detailed coverage of the business side of the duo’s arrangment with the Savoy Theatre.
By the time you get to the stride of the film, you are impatient and exhausted, and the musical production of “The Mikado” itself is tiring (Director Mike Leigh insists on putting the audience not only through several interesting “Mikado” numbers, but through a few duller numbers from prior Gilbert and Sullivan productions), and the characterization of the crafts of playmaking, writing, scoring and rehearsing is more tedious than it should be.