This show drains all of the sparkle and theatricality out of one of the most dazzling showbiz showcases in Broadway history, reducing it to a boring, glacially paced bit of calculated Oscar bait. On top of that, it castrates the score by hiring a cast of nonsinging actors and refusing to dub any of them.
Daniel Day-Lewis sings about as poorly as you would expect him to, and Penelope Cruz manages to make the delicious “A Call From the Vatican” a trial to listen to. Judi Dench and Sophia Loren were notoriously poor singers even when they were young, and if anyone was expecting a miracle to happen in their eighties, it didn’t. Nicole Kidman, at least, can sing a little, as Moulin Rouge proved, but she isn’t remotely up to the part of Claudia, a vocal showcase part that has been sung by the likes of Elaine Paige and Laura Benanti.
The only professional singer in the cast proved to be Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, of the famously awful rap outfit the Black-Eyed Peas, who has no place in a Broadway adaptation and predictably murders “Be Italian”, which is turned into a grotesque music-video production. There was also a new song, “Cinema Italiano”, that was blatantly written to be a pop single and clashes wildly with the rest of the score.
Marion Cottilard, while too young for her part, proves to be film’s only successful performer, singing surprisingly well and providing the movie with its one bright spot. Steer clear of this one—it is without question one of the worst musical movies of the decade.