FilmMusicalReview

Tomorrow Morning

Reviewer: Stephen Bates

Writer and composer: Laurence Mark Wythe

Director: Nick Winston

In recent times, film musicals have proved to be a precarious business. A few, such as The Greatest Showman, have become gigantic hits, while others…well let’s not dwell for too long on Cats. It seems that few have hit the middle ground, but maybe Tomorrow Morning will find it; a modest musical, it could be destined for modest success.

This bitter-sweet British film is adapted from a stage musical which appeared off-Broadway in 2011, having had a short London run in 2006. The setting is Wapping, by the side of the River Thames, which is made to look gorgeous and director Nick Winston never misses an opportunity to bring Tower Bridge and the Shard into shot. These are images of which the London Tourist Board will approve, but the opulence seen throughout the film could contrast starkly with real life in inflation-hit Britain during the coming Winter.

In essence, the film is Kramer vs. Kramer with songs. A 40-ish professional couple with a cute, precocious 10-year-old son split up and fight over custody of their luxury penthouse apartment. They are Will and Catherine (spelled with a “C” in case of confusion); he is a writer, frustrated to be working for an advertising agency and struggling to come up with a strap line for a campaign to promote diamonds; she is an artist who is achieving growing success with her paintings.

Intercutting with the divorce storyline, the film goes back a decade with scenes set around the time of the couple’s wedding. As we could all have guessed that Will and Catherine were once blissfully happy, it is difficult to see the point of these scenes, apart from letting us know what she looks like in a white dress and he without his beard.

Ramin Karimloo and Samantha Barks are accomplished musical theatre performers and they fill the leading roles with considerable charm. As their best mates, George Maguire and Fleur East make lively contributions, helping to add a feel good glow to proceedings.

When the parallel stories face being dragged under by their predictability, solid supporting performances come to the rescue and inject much needed touches of comedy. Anita Dobson is Will’s bossy boss,  Harriet Thorpe is Catherine’s fussing mother and Henry Goodman is her stern-faced solicitor. Tasty one-scene cameos from Omid  Djalili in a bathtub as Will’s father and a blonde Joan Collins as Catherine’s glamorous, man-eating, octogenarian granny add to the film’s buoyancy. At the other end of the age spectrum, Oliver Clayton inevitably steals scene after scene as Zach, the boy torn between his parents.

Musically and thematically, there are strong similarities to Jason Robert Brown’s chamber musical (also filmed), The Last Five Years, which shows far more insight and invention in tracking two people joining together and breaking apart. The key difference is that this film shows the beginning and (probable) end of the relationship, but skips over the intervening years and fails to investigate fully the key questions of how and why disenchantment set in.

Writer Laurence Mark Wythe shows a clear understanding of how a screenplay and songs need to work together in a film musical to drive narratives and flesh out characters. His lyrics are generally strong, his tunes are generally bland, but, however mediocre the songs may be, the film would have become a pretty dire affair without them.

We are not going to wake up tomorrow morning to find that musical cinema has a massive new hit, but this film deserves an audience and should provide a comforting escape from bleak times ahead.

Tomorrow Morning will be in UK Cinemas from 6th September.

The Reviews Hub Score

A modest success

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