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Hamilton Film at Home is Flawless: Movie Review

Hamilton film
Hamilton Film at Home is Flawless: Movie Review
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is the Oakville News publishing assistant and arts reporter. He started with the news in 2016 and now specializes in current and live events, film, theatre and entertainment. He comes from Campbellton, NB and has lived in Oakville more than 20 years. Proud Sheridan grad of Journalism and Performing Arts. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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It’s both surprising and not the Hamilton film is the most anticipated and acclaimed movie of 2020. As America celebrates Independence Day this weekend, the film celebrates a different accomplishment in its history.

Yet the anniversary of Hamilton’s creation is equally incredible as the creation of the country it dramatizes the history of it.

While the movie is a filmed performance (well, two edited performances) of the musical, it’s also distinctly a movie. Director Thomas Kail and cinematographer Declan Quinn have meticulously captured both the story and production for Disney+ in what is easily the streaming event of the summer.

The rap/hip hop musical slash history lesson is more than that, though. The account of America’s first treasurer/secretary Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda, in the role that catapulted him to superstardom) translates perfectly for online viewing.

Just like the show itself was groundbreaking when it premiered five summers ago in New York, the film is groundbreaking in how theatre can translate to the screen. The end result, when viewed without a fan’s nostalgic lens, really does live up to the hype.

Hamilton film

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Pictures

Theatre is created intentionally so it exists in one moment and cannot possibly be permanent. Part of the magic in live performance is that the show itself is a living being that changes, if only slightly, for every night’s next performance.

And so the monumental accomplishment of the Hamilton film is that the cameras have preserved what is likely the most perfect single performance ever staged in the history of musical theatre. The lightning-in-a-bottle masterpiece, as it was perfected by (most of) the original cast, now lives on forever.

The Hamilton film is particularly special for the Greater Toronto Area

Disney’s release of the film over a year earlier than they originally planned is a considerable business risk. But there’s an added poignancy to Oakville and Toronto area-viewers; the film is now available in the months following the cancellation of the show’s live theatrical run.

(The Toronto run was originally scheduled to play until late May. Nine of the fourteen weeks, however, were cancelled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oakville News, however, was fortunate enough to see the show live in February before the show was suspended.)

The nature of film still can’t compare to actually being in “the room where it happens.” But one of the greatest gifts in having close-up shots is the ability to see details impossible up until now.

Yes, it’s breathtaking to see in person, but being able to pause, rewind and examine each detail is pulse pounding. It’s pretty remarkable to see just how synchronized every member of the company is.

Hamilton film

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Pictures

Some of those details? I also knew the events of “Helpless”, for example, were intelligently restaged in the song “Satisfied” (the show’s best.) But the film cleverly highlights the foreshadowing actually starting a scene earlier in “A Winter’s Ball.”

As Hamilton’s job titles get grander, so do his feather quill pens. Phillipa Soo’s Eliza wears a turquoise dress, but close up? Now we can see her earrings match her dress (along with the other Schuyler sisters, too.) These are a few of the hundreds of details that will enrich hundreds of viewings to come.

The ingenious close-ups show us moments that, with the camera, depict the characters’ actions and choices in critical moments in scrupulous detail. We never could have seen all this from the back row of a theatre.

It’s the best rehearsed movie, maybe ever

Having nearly two years of rehearsal and performances clearly refined and perfected everyone’s individual performances. Still, Leslie Odom Jr.’s Aaron Burr remains the standout performance of the company. Both his work and his character will be amongst the greatest in music theatre history.

The cast moves with furious clarity and impossibly unlimited energy through 47 (yes, forty-seven) musical numbers. Everyone in the company is incredible, including the seven Tony Awards nominees in the cast.

For those curious, Odom Jr.’s Burr, Goldsberry’s Angelica Schuyler and Daveed Diggs’ double role as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson eventually won. Diggs rightfully won based on his dance moves and vocal dexterity alone.

Hamilton film

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Pictures

I was among the lucky few who managed to see the original company of the musical in New York back in April 2016. It is the single most incredible artwork I’ve had the privilege to witness. Somehow that majesty and the essence of what makes this play so special has been replicated on screen.

This is the most detailed and flawlessly captured thing I’ve ever seen. Despite having written about Hamilton before, the work somehow still transcends description and the lofty praise it continues to exceed.

The verdict: it’s the perfect fusion of theatre and film

Hamilton has proven it is more than a moment, movement, or mere single thought. The complexity and mastery of the show truly is revolutionary.

In the tumultuous year of change 2020 has been, the show reminds us there is great power in “the world turned upside down.” That’s equally true in 1776, 1781, 2015 and now today.

The exclusivity of theatre made it difficult for the world to see just how special Hamilton was and still is. The film has now made it possibly for everyone to have a seat that, amazingly, is even better than the front row.

Hamilton (Film)

10 out of 10
History Musical Epic.
Directed for stage and film by Thomas Kail.

Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Philippa Soo, Christoper Jackson and Renée Elise Goldsberry. Also starring Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, Okieriete Onaodowan, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Jonathan Groff.

Now available to stream on Disney+ for subscribers.

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