Topsy-Turvy

Topsy-Turvy

5.0 5
Director: Mike Leigh

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Alan Corduner, Lesley Manville

     
 

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Noted for intimate character studies created in collaboration with his actors, director Mike Leigh makes a dramatic change of pace with this biography of comic opera composers W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) is an easily angered but otherwise emotionally remote lyricist who works in collaboration with composer Sullivan (Alan Corduner), a

Overview

Noted for intimate character studies created in collaboration with his actors, director Mike Leigh makes a dramatic change of pace with this biography of comic opera composers W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) is an easily angered but otherwise emotionally remote lyricist who works in collaboration with composer Sullivan (Alan Corduner), a genial and fun-loving sort who feels unsatisfied writing light operettas and longs to work with more serious material. While Sullivan is having a creative crisis, Gilbert is facing a failing marriage to Lucy (Lesley Manville), who loves her husband even if he can't return her affections, and must deal with his ailing father (Charles Simon). When they suffer their first failure, both men are depressed, and Sullivan announces that he's giving up operetta for good. However, a visit to an exhibit of Japanese art sparks an idea in Gilbert, and soon he and Sullivan are hard at work on what will become one of their greatest successes, The Mikado. Much of the film is devoted to the staging of this classic, with Shirley Henderson, Dorothy Atkinson, Martin Savage, Timothy Spall, and Kevin McKidd as members of the operetta's cast. Jim Broadbent won Best Actor at the 1999 Venice Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Karen Backstein
He captured searing existential anguish in Naked and the travails of the working class in Life is Sweet and Secrets and Lies. In his latest film, Mike Leigh sets his sights on what would seem an unlikely subject: operetta composers Gilbert and Sullivan. Far more than a chocolate-box costume drama -- though it is indeed most beautiful to look at -- this return to the Victorian age and stage is a strangely logical continuation of Leigh's fascination with class and culture. The composers' careers have brought them nearly to the end of a beautiful partnership: Sullivan (Allan Corduner) hungers for artistic respect and challenges, while Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) would happily continue writing little fairy tales that show a fantasy world gone "topsy turvy." The solution to their creative quandary emerges from the Victorian craze for Orientalism, the inspiration for the Mikado. Leigh once again pulls compelling performances from his company -- and he is just as comfortable in London's 19th-century opera houses as he is on London's 20th-century streets. Topsy-Turvy is a sensual delight from one of the world's most accomplished directors.
All Movie Guide
Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy is such a faithful rendering of a past era, it's as though the director time-warped his cinematographer back to 19th century England. In his first period piece, Leigh transplants the grittiness of his films' usual working-class British milieu, and the result is a Victorian England with a lived-in look, rather than one glossed over by a fanciful sheen. Armed with this sort of authenticity, Topsy-Turvy becomes a new classic among movies, documenting the behind-the-scenes fits and foibles of a dramatic production. And what better production than The Mikado, the hilarious turning point in the careers of Gilbert and Sullivan, whose precarious professional status made the choice of a Japanese-themed operetta all the more fraught with peril. Leigh lets loose and gets big laughs from his cast of prima donnas getting fitted for kimonos and taking lessons from the misinformed about how to "act Japanese." But the film also contains Leigh's noted finesse for examining emotional distance, most notably between Gilbert and his long-suffering wife (Leslie Manville). And Leigh regular Timothy Spall is unforgettable as he tries to swallow his wounded pride, learning only days before the premiere that his big number will be cut. Topsy-Turvy is the rare film in which grand-scale art direction and intimate character study both feel absolutely true. To echo the succinct praise of Broadbent's Gilbert, Topsy-Turvy is "capital."

Product Details

Release Date:
03/29/2011
UPC:
0715515068918
Original Release:
1999
Rating:
R
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]
Time:
2:40:00
Sales rank:
6,561

Special Features

Audio commentary featuring director Mike Leigh; New video conversation between Leigh and musical director Gary Yershon; Leigh's 1992 short film A Sense of History, written by and starring actor Jim Broadbent ; Deleted scenes ; Featurette from 1999 including interviews with Leigh and cast members ; Theatrical trailer and tv spots

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jim Broadbent W.S.Gilbert
Alan Corduner Arthur Sullivan
Lesley Manville Lucy Gilbert
Eleanor David Fanny Ronalds
Ron Cook Richard D'Oyly Carte
Timothy Spall Richard Temple
Kevin McKidd Lely
Martin Savage Grossmith
Shirley Henderson Leonora Braham
Wendy Nottingham Helen Lenoir
Ashley Jensen Miss Tringham
Jonathan Aris Wilhelm
Dorothy Atkinson Actor

Technical Credits
Mike Leigh Director,Screenwriter
Christine Blundell Makeup
John Bush Art Director
Simon Channing-Williams Producer
Carl Davis Score Composer
Nina Gold Casting
Nick Heckstall-Smith Asst. Director
Lindy Hemming Costumes/Costume Designer
Francesca Jaynes Choreography
Georgina Lowe Associate Producer
Dick Pope Cinematographer
Trefor Proud Makeup
Robin Sales Editor
Eve Stewart Production Designer
Gary Yershon Musical Direction/Supervision

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Topsy-Turvy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This film, the first I bought on DVD and which I own on bluray from Criterion now, is the crown jewel of my movie collection. It is well-acted, well-written and, for fans of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, features wonderful musical performances from Kevin McKidd and Shirley Henderson. This film didn't make me a rabid Gilbert And Sullivan, but it does a wonderful job of showing what goes into the creation of a stage production. It always brings back fond memories of my thespian troupe and summer theatre experiences in high school.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mike Leigh is a genius, and this film proves it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There just isn't anything about this amazing unexpected movie that isn't first-rate. Even the production values of the DVD are elegant. But Mike Leigh doing Gilbert and Sullivan? Maybe no one else could have gotten an acting ensemble to work together as beautifully as this one does. Topsy Turvy may emerge as one of the best of the decade.