© 24 Bilder Film GmbH

Verrückt nach Figaro (Falling for Figaro)
Australia/U.S./U.K. 2020

Opening 27 Jul 2023

Directed by: Ben Lewin
Writing credits: Ben Lewin, Allen Palmer
Principal actors: Christina Bennington, Danielle Macdonald, Shazad Latif, Mark Weinman, Vicki Pepperdine

Whoever says opera is uninteresting has yet to see director Ben Lewin’s newest film, cowritten with Allen Palmer, Falling for Figaro. An Australian at heart, Lewin’s cast is full of Down Under natives delivering delightfully good and wonderfully nuanced performances. Whether cracking a witticism, struggling with a high/low note, or sidestepping something totally offkey the accompanying timbre is majestic and, majestically mangled music. Ah, such wickedness.

Millie Cantwell (Danielle Macdonald) has everything going for her: youth, intelligence, and good looks. Beside a high-ranking position in investment management in London, a debonaire long-term boyfriend Charlie (Shazad Latif) and a gorgeous apartment. Which is why, when Millie announces she is taking time-out to follow her dream everyone is struck speechless. Well, almost everyone; Charlie accommodates her choice. Seeking out friend Patricia’s (Vicki Pepperdine) advice she learns about 1) Scotland’s fast-track contest, Singer of Renown and 2) the renowned opera diva-cum-singing coach, Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley); Millie wangles an interview. Meanwhile, nestled in a wee village in the Highlands Meghan has been working awhile with Max Thistlewaite (Hugh Skinner) for that very contest, and the local boy is the community’s favorite. So, when Meghan takes on Millie, naturally Max is bound to be perturbed. Millie even manages to gain the gruff hotelier Ramsay’s (Gary Lewis) favor—no wonder she was plum for promotion. The question is, though, whose quest has the temerity to triumph.

This rom-com might seem unsurprising, but only if you miss the seriously minute gradations in the talented actors’ portrayals. They swing easily from zesty (sometimes rebelliously so) characteristics to languid pensiveness, e.g., Lumley’s reflective stares into a far-removed time/place. Lumley’s artfulness is attested by her supreme nastiness style (fun to watch), while Macdonald, a mezzo-soprano indeed, adds charm and gracefulness. Verrückt nach Figaro’s production values are solid, views of the Scottish Highlands breathtaking, and the music soaringly good and fun worth hearing. (Marinell Haegelin)

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