Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
In a poor working class London home Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they and their local community are brought together, and they rediscover their love.
After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes.Written by
Steve Fenwick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At the beginning of the scene showing the recital in which Sullivan's song "The Lost Chord" was sung, the pianist is shown playing the last few bars of the Nocturne No. 4 in E-flat major, Op. 36, by Gabriel Fauré. The piece was first published in 1884, not long before the events depicted in the film. See more »
The Japanese exhibition that Gilbert and Lucy attend did not open until after Gilbert had started work on "The Mikado". Nor did Gilbert purchase a Japanese sword from said exhibition. See more »
[rehearsing a line]
Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative.
No, Barrington. "An *otherwise* bald and unconvincing narrative."
Was that incorrect? I-I do beg your pardon.
On the contrary, it has only just occurred to me.
Ah. To an *otherwise* bald and unconvincing narrative.
See more »
Interesting film-making, but too long for the subject matter
Creative genius is a fickle creature. It is rare (some might say impossible) to find artists working in concert who don't experience the aptly termed "creative differences". Indeed most collaborations, whether the result of clashing egos (Simon and Garfunkel), divergent visions (The Beatles), or plain old hatred (Guns 'N Roses) eventually self-destruct. Therein lies the dilemma for the operatic duo of Gilbert and Sullivan.
After nearly a decade of uninterrupted commercial successes their career has reached a crossroads: their latest effort is doing poorly at the box office due to a combination of lackluster reviews, and a vicious heat wave. Sullivan (Allan Corduner) exhausted and in ill health, repairs to the continent to rejuvenate himself and upon his return informs Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) that he has grown tired of the repetitive and unimaginative nature of their operas. Sullivan has decided to devote his remaining time, however long, to serious music.
After stewing about the revelation for several hours, Gilbert agrees to accompany his wife to a Japanese exposition in the hope that he will find some peace. Instead he experiences an epiphany: he will write a new opera set in Japan. The question is can he convince Sullivan to score it?
Director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies) is legendary for his attention to detail. He requires his actors not only learn their lines, but create a history for the character: their favorite foods, hygiene habits, and literary choices. Consequently he elicits unique performances from his cast. This film is no exception: Broadbent's stoic, sensible, and dignified Gilbert is simultaneously witty and clueless, while Martin Savage's performance as the pompous, manic, substance-abusing diva George Grossmith is eerily familiar (shades of Robert Downey Jr.). Leigh also goes to great efforts to create both a pleasing and authentic visual experience: from the sets, to the backdrops to the costumes, he does an excellent job of recreating the Victorian era. Unfortunately Leigh's microscopic view is also his undoing.
I enjoyed several aspects of this film, but there's just too much of it: with a runtime of 140+ minutes, Leigh spends so much time dwelling on the minutiae of the characters and setting that he forgets about the substance. Little if anything happens in the first hour and a half of the film (one of the reviewers sitting behind me fell asleep) and by the time the film finally hit it's stride I was checking my watch to see when it would be over.
If you are a Gilbert and Sullivan fan, you may enjoy this film. But mark my words: wear comfortable clothes and don't go for the big Coke unless you have a titanic bladder.
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