Director Mike Leigh’s high-minded telling of the story of legendary musical team Gilbert & Sullivan is one of the director’s most thorough, highly ambitious efforts. Concentrating mainly on the tumultuous period just before the conception and production of the pair’s THE MIKADO (first staged in 1885), Leigh’s film rings true with an authenticity that transports the audience back to Victorian England with remarkable ease. Leigh, who comes from an extensive theater background, researched this period in English history exhaustively, from etiquette to the costumes to the production numbers. Both Jim Broadbent (as the negative-minded William Schwenk Gilbert) and Allan Corduner (as the “genius,” Arthur Sullivan) deliver impassioned, entirely believable performances, as do the supporting players–particularly Kevin McKidd, Lesley Manville, and Leigh regular Timothy Spall. Notably different from the director’s previous brutally realistic, modern day examinations (such as NAKED and SECRETS AND LIES), Leigh’s film bears genuine affection for the work of Gilbert & Sullivan, which shines through in every frame. Successfully blending comedy, music, historical drama, and human emotion, TOPSY-TURVY proves that Leigh is not just a brilliant chronicler of modern class conflicts in England; he is a thorough, sensitive filmmaker with a tight grasp on the human condition.