An American in Paris Reviews
The problem is that all of this beauty exists in a movie that has disturbing things to say about women. This starts with the character Milo Roberts, played by Nina Foch. She is the villain of the movie, according to the men, but by modern sensibilities never comes across as villainous at all. The male characters take her to task for showing at patron's and romantic interest in the artist Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly. A particularly harsh verbal attack at a wild party that leads into the final dance number suggests she is a vile predator, despite her being age-appropriate for the late-30s Gene Kelly.
Contrast that appropriateness with Mulligan's pursuit of the 19-year old Lise Bouvier, played by Leslie Caron. He stalks her despite her discomfort and then her verbal requests for him to stop being inappropriate. Perhaps his character is supposed to be much younger than Gene Kelly was at the time, but the nearly 20-year difference between the two is obvious. The storyline parallels Kelly's real life discovery an patronage of Caron, and today it is shocking that this is considered just fine when it is an older man helping a young woman, but a scandal when it is an older woman helping a similarly-aged man.
The plot concerns a four-way triangle and ends with a disturbing scene that suggests Lise is an object to be handed between men at their digression. She is not the one who gets to make the choice.
The music and the dancing are, of course, absolutely wonderful and the only reason I give this three stars. Another highlight is Oscar Levant's orchestral fantasy, complete with him at every instrument. It is unclear, though, what purpose his character actually serves. He becomes aware of the various romantic entanglements, but doesn't do or say anything about it except condemn Roberts. By the end of the movie he has had no character arc and there are not hints about what will happen with him and his music. Like Roberts, his character is dropped before the final number, without resolution.
the plot doesn't have much focus and veers off at times but the musical numbers are expertly choreographed as well with the dancing
Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron are the ultimate stars of this musical romp
and I will say the finale without any dialogue wraps up the movie on a successful note
for anyone who loves classic MGM flicks this one's a sure-winner
The film's namesake may derive from one particular American, but the film follows several leads and stories, and although each story is decent, a couple of them feel expendable, while the rest run too closely together in formula, resulting in a hint of convolution and a great deal of repetition, exacerbated by some overlong scene structuring. Of course, most of the excess is found within the musical aspects of this film, because even though each number is worth having to liven things up, from tunes which overemphasize a throwaway theme, to that blasted 16-minute-long ballet climax, plenty of numbers take away from the focus of the plot progression, while few have a place in the context of grounded storytelling to begin with. More numbers than expected fit into the focus of the film pretty organically, but more than a few just don't gel with the believability of a story which is already melodramatized by heavy-handed fluff that comes to characterize the narrative, yet would be easier to embrace if the script didn't exacerbate the cheesiness with some cornball humor and thin characterization. Plenty of the writing is clever, or at least colorful enough to compensate for its superficialities, but if laz elements to Alan Jay Lerner's script don't lead to conventions, they lead to an overly simple, safe approach to subject matter which doesn't exactly set a solid bar for powerful storytelling. The story concept is ultimately inconsequential, with no heavy conflicts or deep themes, just romantic fluff punctuated by lively musical aspects and artistry, and although that makes for a fun film, it isn't entirely Best Picture material, especially when depth is further superficialized by excess, cheese and even a degree of laziness to storytelling. When it comes to entertainment value, this film is very inspired, but when that inspiration buckles, there's no getting past the questionable structuring and lightheartedness which would have rendered the final product forgettable if it wasn't so historically important. Well, the memorability of the film is reinforced by the liveliness of the film, which is inconsequential, but terribly enjoyable on a visceral and, yes, even aesthetic level.
While not the major height in then-up-and-coming coloration technology that it could have been, Alfred Gilks' cinematographic efforts - taken over by John Alton during the ballet climax - is richly lush, particularly when it does justice to a Parisian setting that isn't explored especially thoroughly, but remains beautiful by its own right, as well as immersive and complimentary to themes on romance and artistry which France's capital is known for being the capital of in the world. These noble themes are the heart and soul of a hopelessly superficial, but colorful story, which messily juggles several branches dealing with life, love and art which are nonetheless enjoyable in concept, with an interpretation that is faithful to the liveliness, but largely focused on the musical aspects of this flick. The film is perhaps most recognized for its musical aspects, and understandably so, partly due to a versatility which encompasses elements of George Gershwin's masterful classicalism, as well as jazzy, showy and all around flashy musical numbers whose instrumentation is sweeping, and whose lyrics by Ira Gershwin are iconically snappy, tight and all around memorable. Like many musicals, this film forces in many numbers, but it's hard to wish away any of them, as they're all so well-written and orchestrated, and further brought to life by a cast full of spirited singers, and a few dynamite dancers, especially the infectiously tap-happy Gene Kelly. Of course, Kelly and his peers do more than just deliver on snappy tunes and moves, for just about every member of this arguably overblown cast - from the colorful Kelly and the charismatically subdued Oscar Levant, to the devilishly winning Georges Guétary and a beautiful, 19-year-old Leslie Caron - delivers on impeccable charm and chemistry which bring a lot of life to this celebration of life. The thespians' color is at least brought to light by the color within Vincente Minnelli's direction, which is among the least lazy aspects of this superficial film, as it makes sure that every single scene at least feels tight, with a perky air whose colorful heights are soaring in their technical proficiency, aesthetic sweep and overall entertainment value. I've said it time and again, but I must emphasize that this film is truly a lot of fun, and although it is hardly anything more than that, and therefore very underwhelming from a dramatic standpoint, the entertainment value ought to endear through and through, despite the natural shortcomings it comes with, and the consequential shortcomings which challenge it.
Once the routine has wrapped, the film takes too much time - largely with the help of somewhat forced musical numbers - to tell a cheesy, formulaic and ultimately superficial story, and doesn't stand a chance of transcending underwhelmingness, challenged respectably enough by the lush cinematography, immersive art direction, outstanding soundtrack and dance numbers, charming cast, and lively direction which secure "An American in Paris" as a classically fun, if inconsequential tribute to life, love and art in the most romantic city in the world.
2.5/5 - Fair