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I have never been a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenally popular stage musical version of The Phantom of the Opera, so it will probably come as no surprise that the film adaptation, which is faithful to its inspiration, left me feeling underwhelmed.Truth be told, I am not fond of Lloyd Webber's style of music, and The Phantom of the Opera suffers from a multitude of problems, not the least of which are poor writing and an uneasy marriage between a gothic setting and big-production musical numbers.One could argue that, for a movie like that, his approach is the correct one.It's questionable whether fans of the musical will be enamored with this adaptation.As originally conceived in 1990, it was to star Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman (the original Broadway performers), but those two long since departed, along with many other names, including Antonio Banderas.The trio who eventually got the lead roles are relative unknowns: Gerard Butler is the Phantom (his largest previous role was as "the Stranger" in Dear Frankie); Emmy Rossum (the dead daughter in Mystic River) is Christine; and Patrick Wilson is Raoul.Added to that, Butler has screen presence - a quality that Wilson lacks.It's impossible to believe that Christine feels anything for Raoul (or vice versa), and The Phantom of the Opera's insistence upon fostering this dead-end love affair is its downfall.
But for those like me, it's a mostly tedious way to kill 140 minutes.It's hard to make any determination about their acting skills based on this movie, but they can all sing to one degree or another.The supporting roles are filled by British character actors - Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry, Minnie Driver as the diva Carolotta, and Ciran Hinds and Simon Callow as Firmin and Andre, the new owners of the Opera House.Teetering on the edge of abstraction -- with its titular anti-hero embodying "music" -- The Phantom of the Opera has stood a considerable test of time and is much admired by battalions of fans.And so the film undertakes to repeat the play, without much change and with great care to preserve its most well-known aspects.
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Ultimately, however, appreciation of The Phantom of the Opera will hinge upon your opinion of Lloyd Webber's skills as a composer.