Roll up for a front row seat to the birth of America
(12, 160 mins)
Director: Thomas Kail
Stars: Lin-manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr, Daveed Diggs
(Disney + now)
(15, 111 mins)
Director: Vaughn Stein
Stars: Lily Collins, Simon Pegg, Patrick Warburton
(On major platforms from tomorrow)
LYNN + LUCY ★★★★✩
(NR, 87 mins)
Director: Fyzal Boulifa
Stars: Nichola Burley, Roxanne Scrimshaw, Kacey Ainsworth
(On BFI Player now)
IS IT TOO soon for a night at the movies? we’ll get some indication within the next couple of days when the box office figures for cinema’s first post-lockdown weekend are released. While Odeon and Showcase are dipping their toes in the water, there is still no sign of the theatres opening. So there should be plenty of pent-up demand for the home streaming release of Hamilton.
Before lockdown, only the wealthy and fortunate could see thewest End production of the hottest musical of the century. Now, for the price of a Disney + subscription, you can get what would have cost you hundreds of pounds – a front row seat.
Director Thomas Kail captured the original Broadway cast performing thewar Of Independence musical over three nights before they made their final bows in 2016.
His main aim was to encapsulate the experience of sitting in the priciest seat in New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. But he also strives to offer something more cinematic. Occasional aerial shots allow us to appreciate the choreography and the stagecraft.
Kail also shot some close-ups when the audience wasn’t present. By putting us on the stage, this offers us something money previously couldn’t buy – intimate views of the cast’s faces. On the whole, this makes the drama much more involving than a standard filmed performance, although its over-expressive stars still often seem to be performing to the back row.
Still, this is a minor quibble from someone more accustomed to big-screen acting. For fans of musical theatre, this is an absolute must-see.
Actor, composer and lyricist Lin-manuel Miranda leads an experienced and diverse cast to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the so-called Founding Fathers of America. with virtually no dialogue,
Miranda lets his show tunes do the talking, using a fusion of styles including rap, hip hop, R&B, jazz, blues and classic Broadway.
The music never stops but there isn’t a single filler: My Shot, york town andthe Room where It Happened are already bona fide classics.
Miranda’s love of language comes across in his playful lyrics, some of which I only caught after hitting rewind. But I suspect it was the initial casting that made the show such a sensation.
Miranda was always going to play the lead, but it’s hard to imagine anyone but Daveed Diggs in the dual roles of revolutionary Lafayette and early statesman Thomas Jefferson.
Of course, Miranda wrote the play for Americans, who are taught about these almost mythical heroes from an early age.
Casting BAME performers as the granite-hewed icons made America’s foundation myths more accessible. But to this Brit, the jingoism felt slightly icky and the plot could be a little tricky to follow.
When they rapped about specific events and debates, I hit pause, opened my laptop and visited Wikipedia. I doubt Miranda ever imagined anyone experiencing his masterpiece through two screens, but this set-up made for an educational as well as an entertaining night in.
Inheritance had me scratching my head a fair bit too. In the opening scene, director Vaughn Stein uses that showy, cross-cutting technique where a character is placed in two different moments in time.
In one thread, Lily Collins is power-dressed up to the nines as Lauren Monroe, the tough-talking District Attorney of New York. In the other, she’s running through Central Park in jogging gear.
As Lauren can’t be long out of law school, I assumed this was a dream sequence where jogging Lauren was imagining one day becoming the powerful Lauren.
Then we are introduced to Lauren’s younger brother, who is standing for his second term as a Congressman, and I began to wonder whether this was going to be another Bugsy Malone.
Sadly not. when their rich father dies from a heart attack, it becomes clear this is a badly cast, sloppily written and entirely serious thriller.
At the reading of the will Lauren is handed a key, which comes with a mysterious message: “The truth must stay buried.”
The lock is in the top-secret – but clearly visible – hatch in her father’s well-manicured lawn. After opening the door, Lauren steps into an underground bunker where she discovers a bedraggled Simon Pegg chained to a bed.
Pegg, trying to be serious, growls that Lauren’s evil dad has held him a prisoner there for 30 years, which happens to be the exact age of Collins’s high achiever.
For the next patience-sapping, credulity-breaking, hour-and-a-half, our heroine investigates Pegg’s story while pondering whether to let him out.
There are twists, but the biggest mystery is how this preposterous muddle ever got made.
Lynn + Lucy is far more down-to-earth. Co-produced by Ken Loach’s production company, Sixteen Films, it takes us to an Essex housing estate where two life-long friends (Nichola Burley and first-time actress Roxanne Scrimshaw) are living as neighbours.
When tragedy strikes, a gritty but familiar realist drama suddenly turns into a provocative morality play.
Fyzal Boulifa’s clever script takes us across the line that separates the candle-lit vigil from the torch-carrying mob.