Critique : Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical
par David Katz
- Ce roman mondialement populaire est de nouveau transposé à l’écran, cette fois par Matthew Warchus, et cette fois en chansons - mais pas de très bonnes chansons
Cet article est disponible en anglais.
When you go to see a modern Marvel Comics adaptation – and please, this writer wouldn’t recommend it – the film begins with a busily animated logo featuring flashing glimpses of Captain America and Iron Man, denoting that it’s from the all-powerful Marvel Studios production house, along with their benefactors at Disney. Media giant Netflix has a similar IP-hungry content buying strategy, mimicking how Disney went after Marvel and then Lucasfilm, and in September of last year, it purchased the rights from Roald Dahl’s estate to his entire collection of works. Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical [+lire aussi :
fiche film] – directed by Brit Matthew Warchus, and opening the BFI London Film Festival this week – is the inaugural project from this deal to see the light, and so one of the first vanity plates we see is an enormous, animated, purple Wonka Bar, with the wrapper scrunched off to reveal “The Roald Dahl Story Company”.
Another element familiar from IP- or “pre-awareness”-driven blockbusters of the past several years is their attempt to give you something familiar-tasting or -seeming, yet a bit different. So it wasn’t enough to hew close to the fondly remembered, Americanised 1996 film, both directed by and starring Danny DeVito. Matilda 2022 is closely adapted from the original 1988 Dahl text (it was one of his final works to be published), hitting all of the familiar beats square on the head. Now we have perfunctory, yet sometimes cleverly worded songs by Tim Minchin as well, derived from a hit Christmas stage musical adaptation produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company that’s still running in the UK.
A further intriguing recent news cycle has involved Dahl’s historic offensive and anti-Semitic statements coming to light, as well as scrutiny over the racial and gender stereotyping in his books and other widely read children’s literature. This adaptation, however, still keeps most of Dahl’s original intact, whilst happily allowing for more diversity and colour-blind casting across the principal performers. Matilda Wormwood (Alisha Weir) is still the head-in-the-clouds bookworm from a wormy family, with her neglectful and materialistic parents played by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough in the hyperbolised manner of an early Mike Leigh film. After Matilda is booted off to Crunchem Hall, seemingly the only operating school in their catchment area, she meets her nemesis in the headmistress Miss Trunchbull, one of the most memorably villainous characters in the Dahl corpus, who Emma Thompson incarnates in a facial prosthetics-aided turn that could’ve been, well, more likeable – all the best baddie characters in fiction tend to make you root for them instead. The precocious Matilda spends the tale attempting to wrest control of the school away from Trunchbull, and more towards the influence of her kindred spirit form teacher, Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch).
Observing the cross-age-range appreciation for Paddington [+lire aussi :
fiche film] and Paddington 2 [+lire aussi :
fiche film], being a family film shouldn’t preclude being enjoyable for all ages, but it still feels like younger viewers especially would get the biggest kick out of this version of the tale. And akin to Lisa Simpson, many young readers rightfully felt “seen” and inspired by Matilda, who saw through the hypocrisy and jadedness of all of the adults around her, familial or not. Here, Warchus seems to be pitching down, prizing – in the words of the musical numbers – the “naughtiness” and the “revolting”, anarchic schoolyard behaviour, when the reason we really loved Matilda was because she was so clever, watchful and even-tempered, in contrast to the authoritarian taskmaster Trunchbull. And maybe also because she didn’t sing!
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is a UK-US co-production staged by Working Title Films, Netflix and TriStar Pictures.
(Traduit de l'anglais)
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