Matilda The Musical Review

Matilda The Musical
Matilda The Musical
Home » Blogs » Matilda The Musical Review

Roald Dahl wrote the novel Matilda in 1988. It was one of his last books and it tells the story of a young girl with incredible intelligence who is trapped by people without any intelligence at all, her parents and headmistress Miss Trunchbull. In 2010, Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin turned it into a hilarious musical that also happened to be magical. This adaptation has been directed for the screen by Matthew Warchus, who directed the show on stage — and there are still elements of the stage about this film — but they’re more high notes than bum ones. We are talking about Matilda The Musical movie here.

The key to its success is Alisha Weir as Matilda. She sings, she dances, she convinces as a little girl who discovers strange mind-powers even beyond her extraordinary intellect. Weir’s got that steely gaze and reserve of someone who’s had a hard life since birth, though not too much stage-school cutesiness. But one of the nice things about both book and show is that Matilda’s not quite a one-girl army. She has Lavender (Rei Yamauchi Fulker) as her best friend at school, a boy called Bruce Bogtrotter (Charlie Hodson-Prior) — brave if greedy — in her class among other funny weirdos. They band together with funny weird kids from across their school to take down Miss Trunchbull.

And Emma Thompson goes big as The Trunchbull — on stage she was played by a man in drag because sometimes in order to communicate how very large someone is you have to get an actual very large person or at least give them some actual size-indicative padding; Thompson accomplishes much the same trick here with what looks like an American football team’s worth of foam rubber underneath her outfit and some iron-soled platform shoes. She’s widened her jaw, scraped back her hair and disappeared into a genuinely threatening grotesque — she is the sort of teacher who considers it a life goal to break as many spirits as possible. She’s almost entirely without redeeming features and her backstory includes murder and mayhem as well as mass child abuse; it’s delicious watching her get her comeuppance.

The adult cast have less to do, but do it well: Lashana Lynch is lovely and an impressive singer as Miss Honey, playing against type in that she gets to be all sweet and nice rather than running around shooting things; Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough are also worlds away from their usual highbrow drama (Boardwalk Empire, The Long Walk Home) and clearly loving the change of pace here; Sindhu Vee is warm and kind as librarian Mrs Phelps. It takes a village, in the end, to save a child.

Despite a lot of real locations and exterior scenes, it can’t always escape its staginess because the pacing is theatrical rather than cinematic — just under two hours would be brief for a stage show but feels long for a family film. There are too many establishing scenes of Matilda’s life at home with her parents at the beginning; they drag a bit before getting into the fable she tells Mrs Phelps in the library which was largely created for the stage but has been left here in its entirety; some of Minchin’s witty lyrics get lost in the sound mix which is a shame. But overall it’s hard to argue with a girl this bright and brave — Matilda remains an excellent role model even if she is just slightly naughty sometimes.

Also, Read On Fmovies

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *