Wonka is a superb pure sugar musical (review)

Wonka is a superb pure sugar musical (review)

Paul King’s tour de force is to have made a musical above all else, and it is much better than a commercial prequel about the chocolatier’s youth.

According to tradition, and we know what it is, we can divide musicals into two main categories: those of the West End and those of Broadway. On the one hand, London and its colorful and eccentric blockbusters; on the other New York and its sometimes intellectual elegance. Andrew Lloyd Weber on one side, Stephen Sondheim on the other, in short: The Phantom of the Opera versus West Side Story. It’s very caricatured, but it will allow you to immediately situate Wonka : undeniably West End, but with unexpected Broadway flashes.

Allergics will be warned, Wonka is a musical, a real one, a hard one, full of magic and marshmallows. The purpose of Wonka is more about making a great musical like Wretched And Sweeney Todd (the West End and Broadway, you get it) than kowtowing to the mythology of Roald Dahl. It remains of course imposing, but not overwhelming: which is interesting Paul Kingapart from making a film which makes a big gap between the West End/Broadway, between the chocolate fantasy and the romantic symphony, is to bend the film to its image and to make it a heist film which praises kindness and mutual assistance -like both PaddingtonOf course.

The opening of Wonka immediately makes things clear: we follow young Willy (Timothée Chalamet, impeccable as a clumsy and naive dreamer), returning from a trip around the world, arriving in an English town in the middle of winter; over the course of the song, he will lose his meager fortune piece by piece and will fall under the thumb of two slave launderers (brilliant Olivia Colman and Tom Davis), halfway between the Thénardiers of Miserable and the couple of barber-pastry chefs who murdered Sweeney Todd. From there, the film will progress organically, replicating the movement set by this opening number.

We need look no further for the pleasure caused by Wonkawhich does not see itself for a single second as an attack on capitalism or an apology for libertarianism, but rather as a pure comedy – often hilarious, moreover – worthy British cousin of the brilliant parody series of musical comedies Schmigadoon (and guess what, Keegan-Michael Key is in Wonka). It is not for nothing that the pieces of Wonka were set to music by Neil Hannon: basically, the film is in the image of the prole and elegant pop (one might even say: rural but racy) of The Divine Comedy albums. Wonka, it’s like singing Broadway in the West End, or vice versa. The English even have an expression – much more elegant than our “caviar left” – for this kind of attitude, and it is to be a “champagne socialist”. Tchin!

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