Matilda is the perfect Christmas musical for the whole family

Matilda is the perfect Christmas musical for the whole family

In 2010 Matilda , the famous children's novel by Roald Dahl , became a musical thanks to director Matthew Warchus capable of experiencing a more unique than rare international success. Within a few years he won 55 awards all over the world, including seven Oliver Awards and five Tony Awards, even managing to make us forget the 1996 film by the great Danny De Vito. Now Warchus brings it all to the small screen, on Netflix , packaging a film that is a little gem for young and old, a Christmas product different from all the others.

With a first-rate cast and a highly valuable confection, Matilda offers fun and melodies, it stands as a work capable of renewing a genre that lately appears to be in difficulty.

A girl unlike any other

Matilda (Alisha Weir) is not a girl like any other. Born essentially against the wishes of her detestable parents (played by Stepehn Graham and Andrea Riseborough), Matilda is incredibly intelligent, sharp, curious and determined. Nothing about her discourages her, neither the parents' attempts to make her "normal", nor the school where she is sent, which looks more like a maximum security prison than a school. Guiding him with a ferocious and sadistic hand is the dreaded and massive Miss Trinciabue (a surprising Emma Thompson once again) who enjoys harassing and humiliating the boys in every way. But Matilda does not lose heart, also because to help her there is also her favorite teacher, Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch), who tries in every way to preserve the light within her and the other students of she.

In short, the little protagonist will be around as a sort of avenger, determined to make a change in her existence and that of her peers, armed with irreverence, love of knowledge, courage and self-confidence. The consequences for the "adults" will be shocking, much more than they imagine. The Adventures of Matilda had become in 1996 the famous Matilda you are legendary! , a small cult for children of the time, but here the purpose is totally different.

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Compared to the first film, which unfortunately failed to break through at the box office, this one directed by Warchus can undoubtedly boast an incredibly more refined visual and aesthetic dimension, but above all an identity that moves decisively towards the pure musical. Something that in today's cinema has been increasingly set aside in favor of mostly hybrid works, structured in favor of a staging more closely linked to a classic narrative. In Matilda instead the musical part is preponderant, the notes of Christopher Nightingale and Tim Minchin blend perfectly with the choreography and scenography, with the beautiful costumes.

By virtue of all this, following Matilda, the struggle for her dignity and her freedom within the home and in Crunchem Hall becomes a dynamic and ironic, grotesque and imaginative dance. On more than one occasion, the whole winks at the silent cinema of the past, with a global acting that is almost always over the top, helping to give the whole thing even more the impression of a modern fairy tale, which aims to operate a critique and a deconstruction of the real world. Matthew Warchus's direction is very coherent, expert and harmonious, he enhances the chromaticism and the individual actor performances, helping to make this film a flamboyant work full of love for its protagonists, good or bad.

A refined musical endowed with great dynamism

Matilda is a film that cannot fail to please in a transversal way, because for the little ones there is a protagonist who moves lightly and mischievously with the steps of a Alisha Weir who is definitely one of those talents to watch. It literally leaves you stunned by spontaneity, expressiveness and stage presence,  it calmly supports the comparison with a divinity of the caliber of Emma Thompson, as well as the rest of the cast. The older ones will find a way to see each other in the strengths and above all in the weaknesses of the adults surrounding Matilda, with the aim of strangling her creativity and diversity with respect to the norm, in rare cases instead they will try to help her find her way and above all not to get intimidated by the prison school she happened to be in. Compared to the 1996 film, this new version shows greater attention to a more varied representation of the world of childhood, also obviously more inclusive and connected to the multi-ethnic society of present-day England. An element of great interest is how the screenplay is at the same time very faithful to the original novel, as well as capable of distancing itself from it where necessary, to create something more unexpected, less predictable and consequently more engaging.

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Look at the gallery Matilda rejoices in her theatrical origins, especially as regards numbers musical, although in the end, one cannot help but think continuously of "the Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, of certain Japanese anime. At the same time, with her cynical gaze towards the world of adults, she owes a lot to Tim Burton, to his grotesque and captivating, colorful cinematography. This is a sort of modern fairy tale that on more than one occasion, however, is disturbing under the surface. Fans of the great De Vito's film don't need any, but compared to Mara Wilson, Weir despite being less "childish", she is certainly more varied in her expressive range, more spontaneous, less plastered. Which increases the effectiveness of the film when it becomes a huge critique of the adult world, especially thanks to the excellent performances of Stephen Gagham and Andrea Roseborough in the role of two of the worst parents who have recently seen in a film. Mediocre, insensitive, cruel, consumerist and superficial, however, they are far from unreal in the way Matilda shows us as they try to make their daughter pay for the failure of their lives. The two must have had a lot of fun playing these two characters, without of course forgetting the Trinciabue of a gigionesca and irresistible Thompson.

A hymn to the importance of the different in society

Which leads us to consider Matilda as a film which, even more than its predecessor, is armed with a social and cultural message very particular, in which the condemnation of the British society of yesterday and today emerges. This appears intimately classist, conservative and materialistic. The only exception is to be found in Miss Honey by Lashana Lynch who, to be honest, appears to be the most plastered of the cast. Instead, it goes better with Mrs Phelps of the lively Sindhu Vee, a friend, accomplice and yet also a responsible adult, who fears for the damage that Matilda could have from the surrounding world. The film confronts problems such as homologation, the persecution of the different, the flattening of the school system that simply tries to create clones instead of enhancing individual talent.

After all, for more than thirty years, Roald Dahl's novel has become a symbol for those who paradoxically find themselves marginalized precisely because of their superiority over the average.

Here we embrace the love of culture, in a world that instead makes more and more of the superficiality and lack of depth of qualities instead of defects.

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Look at the gallery If you really want to find fault with this film, it suffers from a certain structural overload diegetic level, in the fact that the music sometimes tends to be too present and changeable. One gets the impression that Warchus has forgotten that a theater stage and a cinematic universe are two very different universes.

The scenographic gigantism sometimes seems to take over the need not to put aside the intimate and personal nature of this story. However, the final evaluation of Matilda can only be largely positive, not only for the extreme care that characterizes the work itself, but also for how the film is placed on a completely different level compared to other products for children at the time. moment on the market. There is none of the paternalism, monotony and lack of a viewpoint of the little ones about the world here. All the flaws that besiege every type of product studied for children today, from Pixar to the latest from Walt Disney. Who knows if Matilda fails to be a source of inspiration for a new course, a new creativity placed at the service of a childhood to be represented in a radically different way than in the past.

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