The filmed version is miraculous, but disappointing – / Film

Hamilton review

Lin-Manuel Mirandahip-hop musical Hamilton It is an unqualified masterpiece – a unique combination of brilliant writing generation, indelible performances, and spectacular music that became a genuine pop culture phenomenon and entered the mainstream.

So it feels strange to say that the director Thomas Kailfilmed version of Hamilton, which was filmed with the original cast at the show’s heyday of fame in 2016 and premieres on Disney + this Friday, left me a bit disappointed. As a huge fan of the musical who has listened to the recording of the album’s cast many times, it is legitimately surprising that a high definition version of this show people pay hundreds of dollars to see in person simply appear on a broadcast. service, accessible for the low price of $ 6.99 a month. But as the credits progressed, I couldn’t help but get an annoying feeling of being a little disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong – there are several momentous moments on display here. I felt privileged to witness songs like “Satisfied”, “Wait For It” and “One Last Time” due to the powerful vocal performances by the actors who sang them. Most of the time, attaching images to these songs that I know well improved my experience because seeing the artists, with my chest heaving and sweaty when performing choreographies while singing, gave me a new appreciation for the incorporeal voices that have been recorded in my brain. But occasionally, a lighting or camera option actually diminishes my enjoyment of a song. Take “Burn”, a second steamroller of a song from Phillipa SooEliza Hamilton: That song is normally one of the most emotionally powerful in the entire show, but in the filmed version, half of Soo’s face is bathed in blue light that distracts from his excellent voice.

But the film, which, in case you don’t know, tracks Alexander Hamilton’s rise and eventual death through memorable raps and indelible melodies, all with a cast of black and brown actors in the roles of the founding fathers of The United States also provides close-ups that even those who paid to be in the front row could never have seen. That’s easily the best aspect of this filmed version, and the benefits of those close-ups are undeniable.

During “Tonight’s Story” in the first act, the camera pauses on a photo of John Laurens (Anthony Ramos) looking longingly into the eyes of Hamilton who feels specifically designed as a gift to the Tumblr crowd who have been sending those two characters ever since this show debuted. (Note: your obsession may be supported by the true story.)

Jonathan Groff He’s hilarious like King George, and while his songs are as fun as ever, close-ups reveal several incredible acting moments on his face. Groff is in full control of every blink and contraction, and season his performance with almost imperceptible teasing and infrequent wild-eyed micro-moments that reveal George’s fury while still maintaining a real composure.

Daveed Diggs He totally steals the back half of the show like Thomas Jefferson, and it’s an absolute joy to see him use his long, lanky limbs to jump dramatically and kick his way across the stage. And speaking of the stage, now is the time to say a quick hello to the stage designer David korins, whose apparently simple design manages to be the perfect setting for each scene without making drastic changes, and for the choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, whose work helps transform that same stage into battlefields, taverns, corners, and more through the dance moves of talented people who don’t get their own moment of attention on the show.

My favorite shot from the movie comes in the moments before Aaron Burr’s (Leslie Odom, Jr.) bullet hits Hamilton in his duel. The climactic scene is a riff about the idea of ​​a person’s life being shown before his eyes, and there is one photo in particular where Hamilton catches up with an appearance by his wife Eliza, her arm outstretched towards him before she gives She turns and walks away, and the camera is aligned so that as soon as she clears the frame, the only thing left is Burr with his gun pointed directly at Hamilton. It’s the kind of cinematic choice that I wish there was more to this film, one that highlights a relationship or spatial dynamics that can be lost in the depths of the stage from an audience perspective. In a movie, the camera can go anywhere, but this is not a movie, not really. This is a show on stage with cameras capturing the action, and while I appreciated watching it, I felt there were missed opportunities to editorialize a bit more and make deeper visual connections than a stage proscenium could provide.

It seems that Kail, who directed both the show and the movie, got a little lost in the transition from stage to screen. If I made the decision not to editorialize too much with the shot selection, I’d think that would mean the camera would be far enough back so that we can experience what it was like to be in the “room where it happens” for recording these nights. But maybe it’s a bit too In love with close-ups, and there are several times when you want me to back off a bit and show us around the stage so we can get a better idea of ​​what the audience is supposed to “see”.

That’s the weird thing about this version of Hamilton. It’s miraculous that we can see it at all, so I feel like a jerk even to mention its shortcomings. The whole experience is like getting a 90% discount coupon at the most expensive steakhouse in town, waiting for your reservation for months, and then when you finally get there, thinking the food is fine. Glad you’re gone, and it was still a very good steak … but somehow it wasn’t quite what you expected it to be.

/ Film Review: 7 out of 10

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