It’s surprising that opera isn’t more at the center of romantic comedies. It’s melodramatic, over-the-top, and probably the priciest of all the performing arts that your aunt can drag you to. People who love opera will die for it, and Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro is a sweet escape featuring another lovable turn from Danielle Macdonald.
Macdonald plays Millie, and American living in London and working as a fund manager. While Millie’s life is comfortable, it lacks passion, so she decides to put her dreams center stage and train to become a professional opera singer. She gives herself a year to put herself first and see where it takes her.
Millis hires Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop as her vocal coach, and she is embodied by the one and only Joanna Lumley. Meghan’s only student is Max (yes, everyone in this movie has a name that begins with a letter M), and he doesn’t appreciate the competition for Meghan’s attention even though she is technically retired. Clad in flowing caftans and sporting a welcome frown, Meghan takes on coaching Millie with the nimble cruelty that Simon Cowell took behind the desk on those first few scenes of American Idol. In Lumley’s hilarious claws, Meghan is Maria Callas meets Miranda Priestley.
In the wrong hands, the character of Millie could be obnoxious but Macdonald imbues Millie with heart and awareness of her own talents to never let her get ahead of herself. Meghan constant puts her down but she doesn’t let that deter her. She isn’t naïve but confident and realistic–a quality that goes against the very nature of the melodrama of operas. Macdonald is becoming one of our most dependable actresses. Her characters are always measured whether they be a shy beauty contestant in Dumplin’, an assault victim in the criminally under rewarded limited series Unbelievable, or proving herself as a rapstress in Patti Cake$. No, I’m not over “Tuff Love” missing out on an Oscar nomination.
Are we asking for revelations from Falling for Figaro? Of course not. The romantic comedy seems like an artifact but this aria of a film is a lovely escape and something worth celebrating. Move over Florence Foster Jenkins.
Falling for Figaro is now available to rent.