Film Review: Cats

10:45 December 30, 2019
By: Graham Andreae

Cats-a cinematic reproduction of the hit Broadway show, based upon a T.S. Elliot poem-is one of the more infuriating films this year. The film centers around Jellicle Cats, a secret sect of cats that once a year convene to see which of them gets to be reincarnated into another life.

This film has a few decent musical numbers, but the ones that do not work far outnumber those that do. Taylor Swift compensates fairly well as backup to Idris Elba's character with a swinging, belting solo song. Elba's performance is never too much, or too little, but his voice feels rough-hewn and out of tune when he sings. Grizabella played by Jennifer Hudson, is the high point with a fantastic voice and some of the best character development, but that does not save the film from its pitfalls.

The choreography of Cats is fun, but the dance scenes run out of steam frequently. There is some really beautiful ballet, but the scenes are too repetitive making us yawn halfway through them. The dancing has a fluidity that was not in the stage production of Cats, but it still falls short.

What wasn't quite as disturbing as the trailers would lead you to believe is the general look of the cat characters. The movement of the actors is fairly well done and feels more feline than the stage production.

We are left with very little information to serve as a story and as a result feel very little reason to care about Cats or the characters in it. This is a thoroughly unsatisfying adaptation to an already murky and difficult to access source material, both in the stage production and the poem. The problem is that the confusion is not intentional. There should have been more character development and conflict to support some of the few good performances scattered throughout, but it was a bore.

★ star (out of four)

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