Directed by Nick Winston.
Starring Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Oliver Clayton, Fleur East, George Maguire, Harriet Thorpe, Omid Djalili, Joan Collins, and Henry Goodman.
Two crucial days in a couple’s lives are intertwined: the 24 hours before their wedding and the preparation for their divorce settlement hearing a decade later.
I think that, in the world of film criticism, many of us are guilty of putting up defenses. Sometimes these are good things and they allow us to have a little bit of separation from the work that we’re trying to dissect and be insightful about. But sometimes these critical faculties are a barrier to enjoying movies that seek to pry into our emotions rather than our brains. In fact, one of the true pleasures of cinema is watching a film that drives a battering ram into those critical defenses with sheer force of the heart. Personally, I find it impossible to resist a directly emotional musical romance. A step forward, Tomorrow morning.
Your opinion of this movie can probably be gauged by your reaction to the names of its two stars: Samantha Barks and Ramin Karimloo. Those names are as close as you can get to modern musical theater royalty, with Barks best known for her long association with The Miserables and, more recently, for leading the Frozen musical in the West End. Karimloo, meanwhile, is one of the most famous Phantom of the opera stars of recent years and has also played several The Miserables roles. Musical tandems don’t get much more attractive than this.
As for the story, director Nick Winston adapts his own celebrated off-Broadway play for the screen. It tells the story of two pivotal days in the lives of Will (Karimloo) and Cat (Barks), intertwined throughout the film. One of those days is the 24 hours before their wedding, while the other takes place 10 years later, as they prepare for a settlement hearing in the midst of their divorce. It is an elegant structure, reminiscent of the very successful musical relationship the last five years – and changed significantly from the stage show, in which the revelation that both couples are the same people is played as a plot twist.
Barks and Karimloo are musical veterans and as such are able to bring real vibrancy and energy to Winston’s well-regarded lyrics. There’s no point in anyone pretending the movie is anything other than deliberately cheesy and hyper-serious, allowing everyone involved to get away with some broad changes. In the hands of lesser artists, this might have felt like walking through molasses, but Barks and Karimloo are utterly believable as idealistic lovers in their late 20s and fathers in their 40s struggling with the divergent paths their lives have taken. even within their marriage. .
Wisely, the details of the reasons behind their breakup are introduced in the songs instead of being delivered as histrionic revelations. This is not an affair or a fit of jealousy; they are two people who are separated over time, paralyzed by their unwillingness to confront their feelings, in an absolutely heartbreaking way. One segment in particular immediately cuts between the pre-wedding glee and the heat of an argument with abrupt and devastating effect. These are big emotions, handled with sensitivity.
Outside of the main cast, there are amusing cameo appearances from X Factor star Fleur East, though perhaps better at singing than acting, and Oliver Maguire as the two leads’ best friends, while Joan Collins and Omid Djalili get memorable cameos in a single scene. There is also a very nice salsa sequence, choreographed and performed by Strictly come to dance Unconditional Karen Hauer.
However, this is Barks and Karimloo’s show, and the movie comes to life whenever they’re together, whether it’s in a room together or on split screen. Their voices converge beautifully in the most complex crossover numbers, like an early argument that cleverly turns into a song. The chemistry between the two artists is dynamite and their physicality and acting do far more to convey the passing of time than the slightly crude differences in hairstyles and color grading designed to delineate between the two periods.
There is nothing complicated or ingenious about Tomorrow morning. Ultimately, it’s just two incredibly talented musical performers with some great songs and a simple story of universal relationship confusion. But when so much charm is at stake, it’s impossible to keep your toes from slamming or to deny the waterworks when they arrive. But then maybe it’s just me? My critical defenses were not built for this.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. FOLLOW ME on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff, and puns.