By Liz Lopez
The Bentonville Film Festival offered Falling for Figaro as part of the Spotlight Feature program that was to “showcase some of the best independent films from filmmakers using music to create connection and change.” I was somewhat unsure about what to expect from this film when I read the synopsis, but I am thoroughly glad that I did watch the film. The comedy/romance script co-written by director Ben Lewin (The Sessions, The Catcher Was A Spy) with Allen Palmer is good humor without slapstick comedy, and it shows a strong, successful woman, Millie (Danielle Macdonald, Patti Cake$, Dumplin), in the lead role who is willing and able to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer in the Scottish Highlands. I can’t say it doesn’t have some predictability, but I found the characters interesting, as well as the music even though I do not always listen to opera.
Millie has a very successful career as a young fund manager but has the dream to sing. Her co-worker and live in/long term boyfriend, Charlie (Shazad Latif) loses it once he realizes she is ready to give up her lucrative income and leave him behind. He feigns being supportive, but the audience can see right through him.
There are some great scenes after Millie arrives in the Scottish Highlands. The locals don’t know what to make of this goal of hers and the fact that she was going to begin intense vocal training lessons with a former opera diva Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Les Misérables). There probably was some gambling behind the scenes as to how long Millie will last given the opera diva has a fierce reputation in their small community. I don’t want to provide spoilers, but the two females in their respective roles are humorous, yet maintain the drama to achieve the goal to compete.
Millie meets Max (Hugh Skinner, “Fleabag”), an employee of the establishment where she lives while studying. Unbeknownst to her, he is also another of Meghan’s students. Max is training for the upcoming “Singer of Renown” contest – and this is not his first rodeo with that competition. What I do like about this film is that it could have been very predictable at the onset, but at least it has a twist later in the film that doesn’t make you grab the remote and switch films after 30 minutes or less.
Even if someone is not an opera fan, the film is still enjoyable with the music and artists featured in the competition. Stay long enough and see how Millie grows during her time abroad and she/Max evolve.
Additional Cast: Gary Lewis, Rebecca Benson, Ian Hanmore, Margaret Fraser, Vicki Pepperdine
1h 45minutes | In Theaters (limited) and on demand: October 1, 2021
Source: Bentonville Film Festival, IFC Films