HAMILTON – Review by Susan Granger

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Five years ago, theatergoers and critics were dazzled by this vivacious, culturally significant musical about the nation’s first Treasury secretary, political mastermind Alexander Hamilton. Now you can see the thrilling, live-capture, the 161-minute film version with the original principal Broadway cast.

Utilizing a racially/ethnically diverse cast singing exhilarating R&B, jazz, pop and hip-hop music, writer/composer/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda tells the story of a poor immigrant kid who was born in 1775 on the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis.

Cocky, energetic and verbally blessed, Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) became known as George Washington’s (Christopher Jackson) favorite strategist – until he was killed in a duel by his perennial frenemy, manipulative Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.).

Based on Ron Chernow’s exhaustive, insightful biography (2004), it not only reveals Hamilton’s relentless ambition but also his romantic entanglements. Even after marrying Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), he maintains a relationship with her sister Angelica (Renee Elise Goldsberry), his intellectual soulmate, while indulging in an adulterous affair with Maria Reynolds, the nation’s first sex scandal.

Most of the humor emanates from England’s arrogant King George III (Jonathan Groff), who is clueless about why the rebellious colonists demanded their independence.

And Hamilton’s clever duet with France’s Marquis de Lafayette (Daveed Diggs) delivers a timely tweak, slyly asserting: “Immigrants – we get the job done.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda reunited with his 2008 Tony-winning In the Heights collaborators: director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director/orchestrator Alex Lacamoire. Using multiple cameras, cinematographer Declan Quinn filmed 13 key songs separately, enabling revelatory close-ups of the performers, deftly edited by Jonah Moran.

“So much of what Hamilton is about is how history remembers and how that changes over time,” observes Miranda, noting it’s particularly relevant during our country’s coronavirus pandemic, along with Black Lives Matter, amid the bitterly divided political landscape.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Hamilton is an innovative 10, a cultural phenomenon now available anytime, ad-free on Disney Plus for $6.99 a month – cancelable at any time.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.