Review: Tomorrow Morning

It’s impossible to underestimate the aspirational power of movies. The popularity of Hollywood cinema during the Depression was due to its ability to remove people from the anxiousness of their everyday lives for a few hours, usually by presenting characters in well-off situations. As Preston Sturges demonstrated so fundamentally in Sullivan’s Travels, what people want when they’re down-and-out is something that makes them laugh, and while cinema is capable of so much more it’s this idea of being transported that undergirds all films. Musicals are perhaps the purest form of this idea, since they are by definition fantasies that privilege the characters’ emotional lives. Nick Winston has adapted and directed a film version of Laurence Mark White’s stage musical about a couple getting a divorce, and while the situation depicted has its moments of insight and dramatic clarity, it’s set in a world that feels managed to provoke feelings that clash with what’s emotionally going on in the story.

The movie starts at the end, with the divorce of Jack (Ramin Karimloo) and Catherine (Samantha Banks) an almost done deal, and juxtaposes their sad and bitter interactions with those at the beginning of their relationship, when they were falling in love. Both have creative vocations—Jack is a failed novelist working for big bucks in advertising and Catherine is a successful painter—and live in a hip, sterile penthouse that only a tech baron could afford. The purpose of this annoyingly intrusive production design is to show how material matters have made the couple’s marriage untenable, which is an acceptable reason for divorce, but makes for weak broth with which to cook up a musical. White’s muscular pop songs seem written for an entirely different sort of story, one where people overcome adversity, but all the characters seem stuck in a limbo of romantic indifference. One reason may be that the original story was written for American characters and an American setting, but, due to the way the project developed, ended up anchoring a British production with West End actors. There’s a generic quality to the performances and the direction (not to mention the urban milieu, which is London but evokes nothing distinctive about the city) that make the whole movie feel perfunctory and featureless. In the end, what you mainly come away with is: These people seem to have a lot of money. What are they bitching about?

Now playing in Tokyo at Yebisu Garden Cinema (0570-783-715), Cine Switch Ginza (03-3561-0707).

Tomorrow Morning home page in Japanese

photo (c) Tomorrow Morning UK Ltd. and Visualize Films Ltd. Exclusively licensed to TAMT Co. Ltd. for Japan 

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