Trumpeter is an example of a movie that did nothing for me despite having everything in it.
There’s dancing, music, eager performances, bright art direction, cornball humour, and cheery messages throughout about the importance of music and reaching your dreams. The happy optimism flashed across the screen, and yet I felt unstimulated by Anatoliy Mateshko’s musical.
Musicals can be a joyful experience, but everyone has a personal line they draw for their comfort zone. I don’t mind when this genre is in-your-face, but Trumpeter crosses my treshold by being too aware of its own farce. It knows how silly it can be and will be.
Mind you, when playing with swing music (which Trumpeter does throughout its runtime), it’s hard not to get caught up in the barreling drums and the addictive jive that immediately gets your toes tapping. However, as a director who oversees the amount of pizazz being dished out, Mateshko needs to know how to adjust the energy to the medium he’s dealing with; he allows it to leave his control all too easily. His version of Trumpeter would work extremely well on stage, where actors can afford to be louder and more expressive due to the larger performance space. Because the material is much bigger than the package its currently being sold to audiences in, there’s a constant feeling of the film seeping out from all its cracks – showing its seams, and unable to contain its potential.
The songs don’t leave much of an impression, the entertaining choreography would’ve benefited from wider shots, and each actor sounds as if they’re biting their tongue to stop themselves from combusting into a pile of glitter. The heavy use of narration is also a bummer since these moments take away from the natural reactions our hero is working through.
Trumpeter is a lot to handle despite the film having a relatively simple story about a young boy having to think cleverly to fool a strict school administrator and find ways to stay hopeful about his aspiring musical passions. Whether adults will enjoy the film will be highly subjective, but the Ukrainian flick will be very enjoyable for kids (those children who are willing to read subtitles, mind you). At the very least, they’ll be amused by the pretty colours and wailing instruments.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie