After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes.
The riskiest and most emotionally stunning scenes in Topsy-Turvy come in the last twelve minutes, when what had been a rollicking entertainment metamorphoses into an expression of extreme melancholy and loss. […] The D’Oyly Carte company’s alcoholic soubrette, Leonora Braham (Shirley Henderson) […] is left alone onstage, singing the lovely “The Sun Whose Rays” in a voice that mixes heartbreak and triumph. It’s as if all along there has been an entirely different film taking place beneath the one we’ve been watching.
— Amy Taubin (Criterion)
A film about artists who delude themselves into thinking their latest project is a reinvention, when really they have just done what they have always done, even if the end result feels different. […] History has a way of gilding art that has survived the test of time, even if it was initially believed to be a trifle or lowbrow.
— Brian Eggert (Deep Focus Review)