Cold and Stale
Review by Ross Anthony

I tried, but I couldn't make it all the way through this film. Fifty-five minutes isn't a respectable enough length of time to do a legitimate review. Therefore, feel free to call this review illegitimate.

Regrettably, I found this cold clammy presentation nearly as frigid as the theater in which it was screened. Five layers of clothing, and a scarf couldn't protect me from either. While the elaborately costumed characters were cursing the oppressively hot weather in Europe, it seemed to me that if I were to reach up and touch them, I'd find the temperature of their pale cheeks similar to that of bathroom tile.

Set in Paris and London, the story opens as an "artistic-type" emotional Sullivan scored his last composition for the trivial topsy-turvy stories of the sternly British scrooge-like Gilbert. Sullivan wants to write operas! Amidst this drama, long excerpts from productions are included, but play heavily, contributing nothing to the behind-the-scenes story at hand. Admittedly, I am a lover of the silver screen, not the stage. Visa-versian's may beg to disagree with this review. To them I say, "No need to beg ... I'm glad you enjoy stage. In fact, this article may very well be meaningless to those of you that adore Gilbert and Sullivan productions."

I am a lover of music, mind you. A pianist myself, still, the musical interludes and interjections fall like concrete (in all fairness, the theater's sound system was sorely outdated). Nothing inspires, nor warms my cold heart, though several attempts are made. In one bid at humor, two topless dancers laughingly touch each other's toplessness; in another attempt, one fellow in top hat and coat declares, "I played golf this morning!" The lady gasps, "In this heat?" The gentleman, "Yes, but not in this attire." (A few people snicker in the audience. Could I be missing something?)

The vulnerability displayed by a vain Gilbert when the loss of Sullivan's musical partnership seems imminent caught my attention. I do hope the writers capitalize on this interesting character trait. Other than that, the acting itself is fine, the costuming grand, but the over all appeal ...well, not enough to keep me in my seat.

  • Topsy-Turvy. Copyright © 1999. Rated R.
  • Starring Allan Corduner and Jim Broadbent
  • Written and Directed by Mike Leigh
  • Produced by Simon Channing-Williams at USA/October Films.


Copyright © 1999. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:51:55 PDT