We all love Roald Dahl’s Matilda, don’t we? She is brave, super smart, gifted and fearless. As for her imagination, oh boy, she is quite unstoppable. Her only misfortune is having careless parents who, somewhere deep in their hearts, love her very much but are too lazy to look for that affection towards their child. Danny DeVito’s version was quite stellar. Nothing can really beat it, one might think. But wait a bit because there is one on the horizon that, trust me, is fascinating if that’s enough to describe it.
Inspired by the stage Musical Matilda, it follows the same beloved titular character (incredibly talented Alisha Weir), who ends up in school led by the headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchball (Emma Thompson). At first, the little girl tries to maintain her status in school and be a good girl. But because Miss Trunchball was warned by Matilda’s father as a troubled child, the headmistress promises to ruin Matilda’s daily life to the limit. What the woman did not know about Matilda was that the girl was prepared to defend herself, her classmates, her teacher, and the school. It’s going to be a war with a winner and a loser. Matilda, obviously, is going the be the former.
All parents, well, the vast majority, love their children. They cherish them, spend time, cuddle and kiss them. Mr (Stephen Graham)and Mrs Wormwood (hilarious Andrea Riseborough) are made of something else. They resent their own child and turn her life into a nightmare. That’s what they thought. However, despite the parent’s cruelty and neglect, the girl turns into a sweet child with a gifted mind. She loves telling stories to Mrs Phelps about the escapologist who falls in love with an acrobat. When Miss Jennifer Honey and an inspector realize Matilda does not get proper schooling and education, they suggest she attend Crunchem Hall. Her parents, after some time, agree to let Matilda go, but with a dark surprise they’ve prepared for their daughter – to face an unmatched enemy in the face of the scary and awful Miss Trunchball.
Not to reveal much about the premise, even though we know how it starts and ends, I must admit, the musical version of the film was so spectacular, I found myself watching it like ten times, if not more! The music, “Revolting Children”, especially performed by Bruce (Charlie Hodson-Prior), will give you goosebumps. The choreography, acting, and performance – what can I say – no words can describe how talented the entire cast is. The children in the film are killing it. Alisha Weir is brilliant as Matilda to the point when I cannot get enough of her scenes. Her facial expressions, passionate performance, anger and all other emotions the girl must reveal – Alisha Weir handles it as if she was born for it. If she continues being so great, one day, she will collect all the possible acting awards leaving nothing for her peers. I just hope to live long enough to witness her greatness and stardom.
Andrea Riseborough and Stephen Graham are a perfect match. I just wish there was a separate film made about them, as we all need a good laugh, don’t we? I always knew that Lashana Lynch could manage any role, but with this – she nailed it to perfection. She is everything you wanted to see in Miss Honey – tenderness, kindness, empathy and compassion. She has everything for the children and keeps giving. Lashana Lynch does everything to justify the major part she has in the film, and you will never stop enjoying her subtle performance. As for Emma Thompson – what can be told other than what is being written about her talent? There is nothing she cannot do. Whenever her name is attached to a project, expect a masterpiece. She is a perfectionist. She proves that with her part as the ruthless Miss Agatha Trunchball – who you will want to smack throughout the film.
As for the songs, Tim Minchin created the best you could ever get. Each score you hear is so delightful you will never get tired of listening to them. As for direction, why it’s so perfect, so memorable and authentic? Because it is directed by Matthew Warchus, who directed the stage version of Matilda Musical. That’s why, from start to end, it’s an instant classic and will end up in the list of one of the best musicals ever made. And once it does – you cannot deny its significance.