The filmed version is miraculous, but disappointing – / Film

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Lin-Manuel MirandaHip-hop musical Hamilton is an unqualified masterpiece: a unique combination of brilliant writing, indelible performances and spectacular music that has become a true phenomenon of pop culture and has spread into the mainstream.

So it’s strange to say that the director Thomas kailFilmed version of Hamilton, which was filmed with the original cast at the height of the series’ fame in 2016 and which debuted on Disney + this Friday, left me a little disappointed. As a huge fan of the musical that listened to the album recording tons of times, it’s legitimately incredible for a high definition version of this show that people paid hundreds of dollars to see it in person simply appear on a streaming service, accessible for the low price of $ 6.99 per month. But as the credits rolled in, I couldn’t get rid of a lingering feeling of being a little disappointed.

Make no mistake: there are several transcendent moments exposed here. I felt privileged to attend songs like “Satisfied”, “Wait For It” and “One Last Time” because of the powerful vocal performances of the actors who sang them. Most of the time, attaching visuals to these songs that I know so well has improved my experience because seeing the performers, the chests lift and sweat from the choreography while singing, has given me a new appreciation for disembodied voices. that have been marked in my brain. But from time to time, a choice of lighting or camera actually reduced my enjoyment for a song. Take “Burn”, a steamroller from the second act of a song by Phillipa SooEliza Hamilton: This song is normally one of the most emotionally powerful of the whole show, but in the filmed version, half of Soo’s face is bathed in blue light which distracts from her excellent voice.
But the film – which, in case you don’t know, follows the rise and eventual death of Alexander Hamilton through memorable raps and indelible show tunes, all with a cast of black and brown actors in the roles of America’s founding fathers – also provides close-ups that even those who paid to be in the front row could never have seen. This is easily the best aspect of this filmed version, and the advantages of these close-ups are undeniable.

During “The Story of Tonight” in the first act, the camera lingers over a photo of John Laurens (Anthony Ramos) staring into Hamilton’s eyes who feels specially designed as a gift for the Tumblr crowd that has shipped these two characters since the start of this series. (Note: their obsession may be supported by real history.)

Jonathan Groff is hilarious like King George, and although his songs are always as funny, the close-ups reveal several incredible moments of face play. Groff has total control over every blink and shake, and he spices up his performance with almost imperceptible sneers and infrequent wild-eyed micro-moments that reveal George’s fury while largely maintaining royal calm.

Daveed Diggs completely steals the back half of the show as Thomas Jefferson, and it’s an absolute joy to see him use his long gangly limbs to make his dramatic way and kick high on the stage. And speaking of the scene, it’s time to give quick explanations to the scenographer David Korins, whose deceptively simple design manages to be the perfect setting for each scene without making drastic changes, and to the choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, whose work helps turn that same scene into battlefields, taverns, street corners, and more thanks to the dance moves of talented people who don’t get their own moment in the spotlight in the show.

My favorite snapshot of the movie comes moments before Aaron Burr’s (Leslie Odom, Jr.) bullet hits Hamilton in their duel. The climactic scene is a riff over the idea of ​​a person’s life blinking before their eyes, and there is one shot in particular where Hamilton tends toward an appearance of his wife Eliza, his arm stretched toward him before it does not turn around and move away, and the camera is aligned so that as soon as it has released the frame, there remains only Burr with his weapon pointed straight at Hamilton. This is the type of cinematic choice that I would like to see more of in this film, one that highlights a relationship or a spatial dynamic that can be lost in the depths of the scene from the audience’s point of view. In a movie, the camera can go anywhere, but it’s not a movie – not really. It’s a live stage show with action-capturing cameras, and although I enjoy seeing it, I felt there were missed opportunities to editorialize a bit more and make connections. visuals deeper than what the proscenium of a scene could provide.
It seems that Kail, who directed both the stage show and the film, got a little lost in the transition from stage to screen. If he had chosen not to over editorialize with the selection of photos, you would think that would mean that the camera would be far enough away that we could feel what it was like to be in the “room where it was pass ”for registration on those nights. But maybe it’s a little as well close-up lovers, and there are several times when you want him to back up a bit and show us the whole scene so that we can get a better idea of ​​what the audience is “supposed” to be seeing.

It’s weird with this version of Hamilton. It’s miraculous that we can see it at all, so I feel like a fool for even raising its flaws. The whole experience is a bit like getting a 90% coupon on the most expensive steak in town, waiting for your reservation for months, then, when you finally get there, think that the food is generally okay . You’re glad you went, and it was still a really good steak … but somehow it wasn’t enough what you were hoping for.

/ Movie review: 7 out of 10

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