“Let the moment go, don’t forget it for a moment though”
The big screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods has now become a huge box office success, apparently heralding a new golden age of movie musicals, and as a musical it comes complete with a soundtrack which you can get in either single-disc or deluxe-double-disc edition.
The main reason to get this soundtrack would be to get Emily Blunt’s gorgeous renditions of her songs. Her voice was an absolute revelation in the film and she brings such character to The Baker’s Wife that is just irresistible – she nails all the emotional colour of ‘Moments in the Woods’ and blows James Corden off the turntable with her wondrous delight in ‘It Takes Two’. I remain a fan of Anna Kendrick’s Cinderella and Meryl Streep’s Witch is also good, solid rather than spectacular if we’re being picky, in her solo moments.
Elsewhere though, the disconnect with the film exposes the weaker spots. Lilla Crawford’s Red Riding Hood certainly looked the part but her take on ‘I Know Things Now’ misses the mark, likewise ‘Agony’ falls flat without the strapping shirt-ripping antics of the two princes. More so than perhaps with more conventional song-writing, Sondheim demands greater effort (and talent) from its performers and that isn’t always on show here.
Perhaps it is overly harsh but the fact of the matter is there are some cracking already-existing cast recordings of Into the Woods out there, which didn’t have to make any concessions for cinema audiences and they are the competitors here. One for completists only (but download the Emily Blunt tracks).