“Falling For Figaro” review: a cheesy but cute opera comedy
According to her austere, naval-robed employers at an old-fashioned London financial institute, young American Millie Cantwell is the most prodigiously gifted fund manager of many moons: a true supernova in her field, destined for big and big things. profitable. It is without a doubt a wonderful thing to hear if you really want to be a fund manager. If, like Millie, your dearest ambition is to be an opera singer, that sounds more like your head mercilessly selling your heart, leaving your voice stuck somewhere in the exchange. As for who ultimately wins, don’t expect any surprises in “Falling for Figaro,” a cheesy and pretty cute carpe diem comedy, in which it’s an adorable ensemble – directed by Danielle Macdonald, and reinforced by a delightfully imperious Joanna Lumley – who brings the appoggiatures to a fairly standard script.
An Industry Selects offering in Toronto last year, which now gets a low-profile multiplatform release via IFC Films in the US, “Falling for Figaro” finds “The Sessions” director Ben Lewin in more lively form than his mid-pair “The Receiver Was a Spy” and “Please Wait” director projects for rent. This Anglo-American-Australian production is most likely to take off on streaming. In the UK, where it takes place, the Gray Book audience can give it better theatrical prospects.
For Australian comedian Macdonald, who has had varying effects since appearing in Sundance’s favorite “Patti Cake $” in 2017, this very different musical project continues to prove its unspoiled warmth as a performer in a variety of environments. . It’s quite a jump, after all, from grimy New Jersey rap to trill (or lip-syncing, rather) her way through “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in a sequined evening dress. We first see her gazing at a soprano in flight at the Royal Opera House in London. Having her boyfriend and coworker Charlie (Shazad Latif) nap on her shoulder is the movie’s first unsubtle hint that they might not be soul mates.
He’s certainly not on her wavelength when she announces, just after getting a high promotion, that she intends to quit her finance job, and see where her vocal cords take her. The Singer of Renown amateur opera competition is several months away and she wants to give the best of herself. She can’t do it on her own, however, that’s where the cranky and hard-to-please vocal trainer Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Lumley) comes in. Based in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, she is not cheap, and has a reputation for tormenting her students to the point of collapsing, but she would have results.
And so Millie heads north for a crash course in Callas and country living, overcoming Meghan’s haughty demands and the earthy skepticism of local owner Ramsey (Gary Lewis) to find her own voice. Will she succeed? Will her initial rivalry with Meghan’s other protege, awkwardly adorable Max (a delicious Hugh Skinner), turn into something closer? Guess. Needless to say, while Millie professes to love opera because she is “drawn to the overwhelming tragedy of it all”, “Falling for Figaro” is not on the same trajectory at all.
It’s a good thing that Macdonald is so grounded and engaging, as Millie’s fate isn’t particularly important and is only modestly sympathetic. Leaving behind a richly paid white-collar career to spend a small fortune on tuition for a spotlight isn’t the most classic of celebrity eye-catching stories. It’s a little disappointing that Lewin’s film does nothing to overturn the modern perception of opera as an art for the elite.
Still, if you want to lean into the chic of it all, who better than Lumley to take on the role of grande dame? With lacquered hair and an eternal expression of icy disdain, she screams as she terrorizes her minions with barked orders and whistled insults: a perfectly mastered aria. That anyone can have the courage to keep singing after this cut is just one of the many sweet implausibilities of this pleasantly silly and easy-to-hear movie.