First Night Review
If I tell you that this film is about a group of people performing an opera, you’ll most likely switch off straight away. But if I were to add that it is about a group of people who come together in a strange house and fall in and out of each other’s beds, well, things just got a bit more interesting, right?
I’ll be honest. Opera does nothing for me. But luckily for the feature debut from former TV director Christopher Menaul, romantic comedy ticks all kinds of boxes. First Night sees Richard E. Grant’s posh tosh Adam orchestrates a situation that allows him to make the move from amateur to bona fide opera star while attempting to woo a female conductor he has the hots for. Turns out love is in the air as life imitates art, with the two leads falling heads over heels (except our leading lady is unaware that the whole thing kicked off with her beau making a met with Adam that he can get her into bed before opening night. Ssh!) and before you know it, the whole cast is coupled up. But soon the couples merge into triangles and hearts are breaking all over the place. Can the cast pull it all together before the First Night?
My thoughts on this ‘opera film’ are similar to my thoughts on sci-fi TV shows. I’m not normally a fan but one you get past the subplot (the daft polar bears and time travel in Lost, the two universes in Fringe and, here, the bloody irritating opera singing) and find out more about the characters, you actually find yourself becoming quite invested in the narrative and their relationships.
Apart from Grant and a supporting role from Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel from Only Fools and Horses), the cast is made up of virtual unknowns who have had bit parts in TV. Although the fabulous Nigel Lindsay will have recently come to your attention in the little-seen Four Lions – bit different here with him playing a gay opera singer! But First Night just goes to show you how much undiscovered British talent there is lurking about, waiting for a decent role. Worth noting here are supporting actresses Emma Williams (who you may recognize from Bleak House) and Susannah Fielding – beautiful, British and talented.
First Night isn’t a film I would usually head out to the cinema to see but it makes a change from the usual gritty dramas and period pieces that we have come to expect from the British film industry of late. And, for the record, if you’re normally a fan of romantic comedies, give this film a chance. There isn’t that much opera to sit through and the subplots more than make up for the earache!