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3.7
526 Ratings

Topsy-Turvy

Directed by Mike Leigh
United Kingdom, 1999
Biography, Comedy, Drama

Synopsis

Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner star as Gilbert and Sullivan, who, along with their troupe of temperamental actors, must battle personal and professional demons while mounting a major production of their comic opera.

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Topsy-Turvy Directed by Mike Leigh

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

1999 | Winner: Best Actor (Volpi Cup)

Academy Awards

2000 | 2 wins including: Best Costume Design

2000 | 2 nominations including: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Independent Spirit Awards

2000 | Nominee: Best Foreign Film

The result is one of Leigh’s most brilliant films, and hands down the most pleasurable. The complexity of the characters and their relationships, the wealth of historical detail, the energy generated when Gilbert and Sullivan and the members of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company rehearse The Mikado (their most successful operetta), and the buoyancy of the music itself… make for a filmed entertainment that becomes more rewarding each time one watches it.
March 28, 2011
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…I would argue that in Topsy-Turvy Leigh is using the same unsparing gaze that he employs in his earlier works to reveal the structures behind the surfaces of the world of Gilbert and Sullivan, thus making them immediate and accessible to contemporary audiences, along with the era they inhabited. Topsy-Turvy is, in short, a radical work masquerading as a conventional biopic, and shows Leigh striking out into new territory as a filmmaker and social commentator.
October 01, 2005
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Period setting and musical numbers aside, the film is essentially not very different from Leigh’s grungy contemporary dramas. What stands out in “Topsy-Turvy” is what drives “Naked,” “Life is Sweet,” and “Secrets and Lies”: dizzying breakneck exchanges between people, uninterrupted. In fact, one of the most lyrical scenes, a mini-masterpiece of observation, is not one of the many beautifully reproduced musical numbers but an offstage rehearsal that practically flies along on Leigh’s wordplay.
March 02, 2000
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