Posted on 6/06/09 01:58 PM
I know plenty of people, my husband included, will cry sacrelidge when I say I enjoy this movie, its songs, and its story much more than "My Fair Lady", also created by Lerner and Lowe. Tough :) I know part of my prejudice comes from having seen and memorized lines and songs from this film at an early age, when my sister and I discovered it in our grandmother's VHS collection, and proceeded to play it more times than The Little Mermaid the summer we visited her.
Maurice Chevalier, the obvious inspiration for Lumiere in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, effortlessly shines in this film, playing the elder bon vivant Honore, enjoying the bachelor life and all the drama that its romantic trists brings, and how he amusingly observes his younger nephew Gaston navigate the same lifestyle. Leslie Caron (who I freaked out upon seeing her again in Chocolat :) plays the title role, a young woman being groomed by her grandmother and great aunt to live the life of a courtesan to men like Gaston and Honore. Complications ensue when Gaston, who had been freinds with Gigi since her younger days, suddenly sees her in a different light. While the drama of the two young lovers dominate the story, I am still drawn to Honore's role- When he has the duet "I Remember it Well" with Gigi's grandmother (a former lover of his), coupled with the latter song "I'm Glad that I'm Not Young Anymore", he serves well as someone who has had the romantic experiences to know better and can almost laugh at Gaston's and Gigi's dilemma, but also illustrates that the it is something Honore never experienced himself and perhaps cannot understand. While he is perfectly content in his life decisions, the songs illustrate that Honore's glory days are behind him, and that Gaston and Gigi may yet have something he will never himself.
I love the songs, and the casting was great. I think that people who do not understand the story and the lifestyle need look no further than perhaps "Moulin Rouge" to find a slightly similar situation in the leads. This film is frosting, but delicious frosting nonetheless :)