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Topsy-Turvy / Topsy- Turvy / Topsy Turvy

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  Topsy-Turvy / Topsy- Turvy / Topsy Turvy Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
8.00 /10
Arthur Sullivan: Allan Corduner , William S. Gilbert: Jim Broadbent , Lucy Gilbert ("Kitty"): Lesley Manville
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Directed by: Mike Leigh
Written by: Mike Leigh

Released: 1999
Origin: GB
Colour: C
Length: 160

A gorgeously mounted, brilliantly acted account of a crisis point in Gilbert and Sullivan's career. By 1884, they have written ten stage hits but are starting to repeat themselves. One side of the partnership, the married and businesslike Gilbert, is content to carry on churning out more of the same. The single Sullivan, with fewer responsibilities and more conviction of his own genius, wishes to move on and write a Grand Opera. This is the moment at which many artistic partnerships break up. But as both collaborators reach a bad-tempered impasse, Gilbert's bright, indefatigably cheerful wife (Lesley Manville) takes Gilbert off to a Japanese exhibition which gives the great man an idea. How about doing something completely different?
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Mike Leigh's most ambitious and richly textured film, voted Best Picture of the Year by the New York film critics, is in some ways his greatest. It is probably not too fanciful to notice a parallel in the film’s narrative with Leigh's own career, for it has enabled him to achieve an OBE , a clutch of Lifetime Achievement Awards and (I hope) a measure of financial security. Several critics - myself included - noted about his last film, Career Girls, that it was tilling over-familiar ground and his actors were descending into parody of previous Mike Leigh performances. Topsy-Turvy is, for Leigh, that "something completely different", the equivalent of Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado.

But Topsy-Turvy is, thank goodness, more than an auteur's personal statement. One of its most fascinating aspects is that, when we watch the birth in this movie of the masterpiece The Mikado, we are watching the birth of a new art-form. For G&S were the founding fathers of Musical Comedy, with their roots in Operetta but with far greater attention to lyrical wit, comic business, choreography and the singing of songs by untrained voices.

When we see Gilbert (JIm Broadbent, pictured) ruthlessly cutting a number at Dress Rehearsal and sending its singer (Timothy Spall) into a state of tearful depression, or barking in rehearsal at the neurotic dope-fiend George Grossmith (Martin Savage) "Do it

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