An American in Paris Reviews
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
The story of An American in Paris is definitely an interesting one, it explores the difficulties of being an artist; not having enough money to guarantee your next meal, and live in a tiny apartment with almost all of the furniture are a stow-away.
This film would have been a near perfect story and a brilliant character study if the film decided to place all of their eggs into this one basket, sadly what we have here is a film that touches on these issues and establishes them early on in the film, but is then placed on the background when the film introduces the romantic side of the story. What was the point in establishing this early on in the film, and with such focus might I add, if they were just going to only use it as a minor sub-plot with very little effect on the film's resolution? Also, why did the film decide to introduce three men in such detail during the start of the film, when only two of them actually remain significant by the end of the film? This is not to say I wanted the extra character removed from the film completely, as all three are important in exhibiting the different levels of artistic success, and I guess I wouldn't have minded it so much if the film instead focused on the importance and difficulties of being an artist.
Almost all of the film's sympathies goes towards Gene Kelly's character, Jerry Mulligan, and for the most part I connected with him and was interested on what would become of him by the end of the film but it would have been nice if there was little bit more care given for the character Adam Cook and Georges Guetary.
The romantic aspect of the film wasn't all that motivating for me, as there really wasn't something deep into it that I could grab onto, at least the relationship that Jerry developed with Nina Foch's character, Milo Roberts, was handled effectively as it actually supported the artistic issues that our protagonist had.
The film's third act was actually the worst part of the film. It featured approximately a 20 minute interpretative dance sequence that felt surprisingly empty and pointless. There might actually be a point in showing this sequence to the audience, but I personally couldn't find it; and as I was watching, I couldn't help but constantly compare it to something similar to what Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger did for The Red Shoes, which was handled much more tastefully than what was delivered here. Then after it, gives us an ending that felt sudden, needing a little bit more time to flesh out in order to for it to feel effective.
The film's strongest aspect is its musical numbers, though not all of it is perfect and memorable, there was enough for me to be satisfied and a reason to come back to this film; I also think because my standards were set pretty high after recently seeing two great musicals.
The acting in this film was also quite good with an entertaining performance by Gene Kelly. He brings this playful quality that was also present in his other notable film, Singin' in the Rain, showing us his ability to present wonderful solo choreography particularly in his ability to tap dance. Leslie Caron was a disappointment, I felt annoyed watching her as she just wasn't right for the part. She was able to keep up with Kelly during the extensive dance sequence in the film's final act but when we see her acting as her normal self, it lacked that magic that was found in all of the film's principal actors.
An American in Paris presented its audience an opportunity to explore the interesting, and difficult life of an artist, along with a couple of fine tunes, but instead becomes drowned in the film's romantic story which in itself doesn't add to anything entertaining.