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Matilda the Musical is exactly how you do a movie musical

By Imogen Harbert, First Year, Film and Television

Matthew Marchus’ Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical (2022) remarkably dazzles the big screen whilst paying homage to the Tony award-winning stage version of Roald Dahl’s ageless classic. Matilda (Alisha Weir) is a genius who takes a stand against her parents and the evil headmistress with the help of her kind-hearted teacher Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) as well as people she meets along the way.

Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical // Courtesy of Netflix and IMDB

The casting director, Lucy Bevan, did a superb job with each actor perfectly fitting their roles, even down to minor characters, creating a cohesive ensemble cast and making it impossible to pick a standout. Although the initial casting of veteran actor Ralph Fiennes as Ms Trunchbull would have no doubt been entertaining, Emma Thompson stuns as the maniacal villain, throwing her absolute all into her portrayal.

Alisha Weirs’ charisma and talent floods the screen, as she demonstrates just how much of a triple threat she is. On top of this, her English accent is absolutely flawless! I had no idea she was Irish, further accentuating her tremendous talent, especially at such a young age of only thirteen. My only critique is that I would have liked to see a bit more of Lavender (Rey Yamauchi Fulker) and Matilda’s friendship. Lavender is meant to be Matilda’s closest friend however their relationship has very little screentime.

Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical // Courtesy of Netflix and IMDB

Each musical number was perfectly performed. Lashana Lynch’s performance of ‘My House’ is moving to say the least whilst Alisha Weir encapsulates Matilda’s rebellious and cheeky side in her rendition of ‘Naughty’. Although I was a fan of the original version’s take on ‘When I Grow Up’ as the cast perform the song whilst on swings, it was surprisingly well received to alternatively see the children flying planes and driving buses as they imagine their lives as adults. This scene demonstrated the idea that children have innocent and simplified ideas of adulthood.

Ellen Kane’s choreography was spectacular throughout but special mention to when Hortensia (Meesha Garbett) fiercely accelerates down the corridor in Revolting Children. The camera here speedily tracks away, complementing her rapid and indeed ‘revolting’ movements. This moment was so impressive that it has been trending all over Tiktok, with people referring to her as ‘red beret girl’ as they try and recreate this iconic section of choreography.

Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical // Image by Dan Smith, courtesy of Netflix and IMDB

Anna Lynch Robinson chose for the sets to be bright, colourful and bold, keeping the whimsical style from the stage version, a fitting choice for a musical about childhood imagination. The school is designed to look like a prison, perfectly setting the tone for Miss Trunchbull’s reign as headmistress.

The Wormwood’s house is overbearingly pink and includes luxurious materials such as gold, silk curtains or fluffy rugs, highlighting the Wormwood’s materialism. Their house cleverly contrasts Matilda’s room in the attic, which is a lot less furnished. The Wormwoods chose to spend their money on themselves rather than their own child, showing the neglect that Matilda endures. Director of Photography, Tat Radcliffe chose Matilda’s room to have low-key, cool-toned lighting to emphasise the isolation and loneliness Matilda feels.

Matilda the Musical is a film that knows exactly what it is: a fun, camp and electric watch, perfect for families to escape this Christmas period.

Featured Image: Netflix and IMDB

Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical releases on Netflix on Christmas Day!