This year's London Film Festival is off with a bang! The yearly festival always brings heavy-hitters from all over the world that the BFI feel that audiences will resonate with. However, Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical is one certainly aimed at families. However, that's not to say adults will love it just as much as kids.
Based on the Tony and Oliver award-winning musical, Matilda the Musical follows Matilda Wormwood (Alisha Weir); a little girl with big curiosity, a sharp mind and a vivid imagination – along with the worst parents in the world. While her parents (played by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) content themselves with trashy TV and dodgy money-making schemes, she loves to lose herself in the pages of her beloved books. On meeting her inspirational teacher, Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch – The Woman King, No Time to Die), Matilda is encouraged and begins conjuring her own fantastical tales. Excited to attend Crunchem Hall, Matilda is surprised to find the school is an ominous and oppressive place led by the huge and villainous Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson).
The story of Matilda is one that nearly everyone is familiar with. Roald Dahl's book is one of the most celebrated children's books of all time and his writing (not just on Matilda but in general) changed the game in regards to kids books. So, when the book has been adapted into a film before, a broadway musical and now a film has been made based off the broadway musical that is based off a book. Not bad for a kids book!
First off, the performances from the three central actors are fantastic. Newcomer Alisha Weir proves she is a star-in-the-making as Matilda. She can manage the whimsical and rebellious side to the character while handling the emotion in the latter half of the film.
Lashana Lynch also adds a lot of heart to the character of Miss Honey too. After The Woman King earlier this year and now Matilda, she shows that she can take on a variety of films and Lynch looks like she can pull it off with ease.
However, the clear standout performance is from Emma Thompson as the evil Miss Trunchbull. Thompson gives one of the most over-the-top performances I have seen in quite a few years as the demon headmistress and was able to make me laugh on multiple occasions. Every scene she is in, she is able to command the screen and be menacing and amusing.
The music is also fantastic. Most of the songs are incredibly catchy and the sequences that go along with them are striking and memorable. The Revolting Children sequence is a highlight within the film and the choreography in the scene is brilliant!
Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the year! It's a lot of fun for adults and kids who love Roald Dahl's stories while Matthew Warchus' direction excels during the big choreographed pieces. The acting from the three leads is excellent and while the supporting cast are a little all over the place (some of the child acting isn't particularly good), it doesn't stop the film from firing on all cylinders.