When the cover of a straight-to-DVD movie tells you that it’s made by the producer of two decent movies from 20 years ago, and some less than average Photoshop skills were used to create the cover art, you know that nothing revolutionary is waiting for you under the cover. And First Night doesn’t disappoint.
First Night is a yarn about a rich British industrialist, Adam (Richard E. Grant) who aspires to a more cultured world. He gets a bunch of opera performers and a crew together in order to perform a special opera at his lavish country estate. The rest of the film meanders along through the trials and tribulations as the performers live and practise together in the country estate, up to the point of the actual performance. It is a tale filled with opera, of finding love and of overcoming odds, all in an opulent setting within the English countryside. Adam strives to be seen as a peer amongst the other opera singers and as the story unfolds, we see that he also strives for the hand of Celia, played by Sarah Brightman, who is awful in this film. The opera singers all have their different backgrounds that they try to either forget or move on from during the film. In the process we see love unfold in unlikely places, with some unforeseen and sometimes hilarious consequences.
Set on a spectacular estate within the English countryside, it’s almost impossible to have shot an ugly film. The house is truly magnificent and the huge gardens are extravagant, to say the least. If you like opera, this film will be a joy to watch, as it’s filled with very talented singers, practising and performing throughout the film. The singing, unfortunately, together with the opulent setting, is the best this film has to offer. The acting is wooden and the story itself offers one cliché after another. Everything happens the way you think it should and First Night leaves no surprises or anything remotely clever.
This is one operatic tale you could give a miss.