Topsy-Turvy

"Good"

Topsy-Turvy Review


One of my earliest childhood remembrances was watching a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore. I thought it was really neat. The costumes and music were amazing and even though I couldn't understand all of what was going on, I was fascinated by how all of these people worked together.

Now 20 years later, while watching another Gilbert and Sullivan performance (of sorts) I am still thinking the same things.

Topsy Turvy is the story about the two collaborators who during the late 19th century created such musical masterpieces as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and many others.

William Schwenck Gilbert (Played by Jim Broadbent) is the librettist, writing the words. Arthur Sullivan (played by Allan Corduner) is the composer, writing the music. Gilbert is the very model of a 19th-Century British gentleman, an overly proper married man certain that he knows best - which he often does. Sullivan lives a freer life, almost libertine by comparison; but there is a seriousness of purpose in him.

For nearly a decade, Gilbert and Sullivan's collaborations have delighted the English people. Their popular comic operas have recouped handsomely for the successful Savoy Theatre; impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte (played by Ron Cook) himself is a stabilizing influence, gently but firmly overseeing the two men.

But, in 1884, as a London heat wave cuts into the theater trade, their latest work, Princess Ida receives only lukewarm press. Sullivan wants to quit and compose more serious music, but the two are contractually obligated to create a new work for Carte. Sullivan rejects Gilbert's next idea as "topsy-turvy" and unbelievable, and although Gilbert tries to accommodate him, they cannot agree. Mired at a creative impasse, Gilbert and Sullivan can barely converse.

Then, Gilbert's wife, Lucy "Kitty": Gilbert (Lesley Manville), drags him along to a Japanese exhibition. Exposure to the very different culture sparks inspiration in Gilbert. He rebounds, conceiving The Mikado. The concept encourages Sullivan, and the production comes together, which is when the truly hard work begins.

Written and Directed by Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Life is Sweet) the film is visually impressive and amazingly well performed. However, the pace of the movie is leisurely at best, which unfortunately makes for an ass-numbing collection of costumes, characters and sub-plots. There are so many characters and background stories introduced through the film that you almost need a playbill just to keep up with everything. What's worse, is that after spending so much time working through all of the developing plots, all the stories seems to get wrapped up at a blinding pace towards the last 30 minutes of the film.

Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan's work will no-doubt delight in the fantastic musical numbers (some performed in their operatic entirety), but will they want to see all of the this combined with the backstage bickering and headaches that it took to accomplish such memorable pieces?

Overall the movie looks good, the costumes are beautiful and its fascinating to watch all the people working together, but when spread out over the 160 minutes of running length, it just makes for a long, drawn-out film appealing primarily to most viewers' mothers.

My opinion: a good rental for a rainy day. Indeed: Extra DVD features include a featurette, various trailers, still photos, and cast and crew bios.

Gilbert, meet Sullivan.



Topsy-Turvy

Facts and Figures

Run time: 160 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2000

Distributed by: October Films

Production compaines: Thin Man Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 74 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Sir Arthur Sullivan, as W. S. Gilbert, as Richard Temple (The Mikado), as Louis, as Leonora Braham (Yum-Yum), as Richard D'Oyly Carte, as John D'Auban, as Lucy Gilbert, as Helen Lenoir, as Durward Lely (Nanki-Poo), as Mr. Hammond, as Miss Tringham, Sukie Smith as Clothilde, as Madame

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.