Topsy Turvy – 2.25 stars

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.

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3 comments
  1. Denise Sheehan said:

    Could not disagree more – one of my favorite movies. The more I watch it , the more I see. If you think of it as NOT plot driven, but character driven, all those “unnecessary” scenes make sense. And it is worth it to see a young Kevin McKidd play the tenor – diva scenes and all! A far cry from “Rome”

    • Wow. That was the guy in Rome? Unbelievable. That said, those scenes make sense, but exposition has to be more than sensible – it has to propel the story and if he start getting heavy-lidded, there’s a problem.

      • Denise Sheehan said:

        It’s like an audition for Harry Potter. Moaning Myrtle is the soprano with the baby voice who drinks, Timothy Spall is the Mikado ( I think he was the rat-like henchmen), Jim Broadbent and other bit players who ended up at Hogwarts.

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