From Titipu, with love

Topsy-Turvy beautifully and intimately re-creates the glory days of Gilbert and Sullivan

Performances are outstanding throughout, and Broadbent, known on these shores for Brazil, Time Bandits, and Little Voice, is an exemplary Gilbert -- stodgy, but always harboring a carefully veiled glimmer. Equally superb is Corduner (The Impostors), who invests Sullivan with the prickly sensibilities of an artist working miracles below what he believes to be the full extent of his potential. Special kudos also to Spall, Savage, McKidd, and Henderson, whose work onstage, in both The Sorcerer and The Mikado, is spellbinding (plus they've got terrific voices, especially McKidd and Henderson).

The odd couple: Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner, left) and W.S. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) lend a short, sharp shock to Topsy-Turvy.
The odd couple: Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner, left) and W.S. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) lend a short, sharp shock to Topsy-Turvy.

Details

Written and directed by Mike Leigh

Starring Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Ron Cook, Wendy Nottingham, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, and Martin Savage

Opens Jan. 28

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It's pretty likely that audiences will take some time to warm up to the Victorian charm of Topsy-Turvy. (Besides, by today's sophisticated standards, Gilbert's century-old Mikado makes Eric Idle's friendly, left-handed "I Like Chinese" seem like an Asian pride anthem.) It would be easy to compare this film to John Turturro's recent (and equally glowing) Illuminata, but Leigh is a more mature artist and unhindered by Turturro's pretensions. Instead, think of Topsy-Turvy as this year's Amadeus, a masterful film about the magic of performance and the foibles of the artists behind it.

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