Tom Hooper is adapting Cats, the musical that has been playing for nearly 40 years in London’s West End. Should we risk it? This is the big question.
On the occasion of the broadcast of Cats, this Friday evening on Canal +, we republish our review, initially posted online for its theatrical release, in December 2019.
Are you waiting for the scratch? At this time Cats, adaptation of the eponymous musical, signed Tom hooper (Les Misérables, A King’s Speech) is already preceded by a very negative rumor. The trailer where we discovered the human faces on the bodies of cats had already scared more than one. Only the addicts to musicals held out. The vision of the film in its entirety made them disillusioned. Admittedly, the film is not the apocalyptic catastrophe that one imagines. And we must recognize that the musical performances are there. Idris Elba is very convincing in McCavity, Francesca Hayward is perfectly charming in young Victoria and Jennifer Hudson gives a very inspired interpretation of Memory.
A cabaret review
But the problem is elsewhere: In order to make more believable these singing cats in the hope of being chosen by the eldest of their clan to live a new life, Tom Hooper took the party to create hybrid creatures doped with special effects up to the ears. In this CGI debauchery, the viewer does not know where to turn: Rebel Wilson in a fat pussy leading an army of cockroaches, James Corden as a trash can noser or Taylor Swift distributing catnip like de Drugs. Originally the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical in 1981, there was a very Christlike collection of poems by TS Eliott where cats dreamed of resurrection. Poetic, there is not much left in this great barnum where the numbers and guest stars are linked. Was Taylor Swift too expensive to make the whole movie? Ian Mc Kellen cabotine and we can not explain the large fur coat that comes to bind Judi Dench in a rather bland queen mother number. You would think you were attending a show in an acrobatic cabaret.
Cats: Tom Hooper defends his film against criticism of his character design
Where is the real one?
Drowned in kitsch settings at will, lost in a London deserted by humans, our Cats – with moving ears – dance their hopes. The problem is that in this hybridization between animation and reality, we no longer differentiate between the performance of the actors and that of the animator. Why end a formidable tap dance act with a leap to the sky? Is it really the principal dancer, Francesca Hayward, who performs these magnificent entrechats?
A story on the sly
There was no adaptation work on the musical. Tom Hooper and Lee Hall (screenwriter of Billy Elliot and of Rocketman) put the stakes and the story back where the live performance was no longer enough to hook the spectator. Why did you sacrifice the character of Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) and decide to make Cats the initiatory journey of a young cat? The result is ultimately a polite boredom in front of this feline journey. The opposite of the thrill you feel when you see the show on stage. Maybe it was just a bad idea to try to make this show a movie for the big screen.
Judi Dench, not really tender with his costume in Cats