While somewhat self-indulgent in its length (over two hours!), it's a complete delight in every way. Leigh's dialogue is as witty as his direction is fluid, the music is glorious, and the performances polished from almost everyone in the ensemble.
The principal reservation I have is that those of us in the audience who may not be aficionados of G&S works will leave the theater in the dark about the themes of the compositions. Just what is "The Mikado"--a piece which lampoons British society but which distances the satire by situating the action in Japan? (P.S. The features on the DVD take care of this, so they may be worth watching prior to the movie.)
Yet, Leigh evokes a very authentic atmosphere, creates credible characterisations, and is ultimately not afraid to balance the realities behind the performances with certain matters left in the air at the end. The passion for art (whether it be Gilbert & Sullivan operettas or, you know, clay sculpture) is what burns intensely in this movie. Some may judge this film as stuffy or high-nose, but the tremendous heart of this film is almost impossible not to be carried away by.
A very unusual but satisfying treat.