Newest Review: ... the Englishman she falls for but who resists her early advances citing his poor luck in choosing physical partners in the past. The two be... more
Life is a cabaret
Member Name: pmcds
Advantages: Music and acting; full of elements
Disadvantages: Not as great as it's made out to be
This sits firmly in Empire's top 500 films of all time, but I honestly can't say I found it to be that amazing. It's certainly good, but there's nothing that astounds, amazes or makes you sit up and pay more attention than the majority of films would, to be honest.
Minelli stars as Sally, a young American singer at a cabaret club in 1930s Berlin. York is Brian, the Englishman she falls for but who resists her early advances citing his poor luck in choosing physical partners in the past. The two become friends and later lovers against the backdrop of the ever increasing hold that the Nazi party exhibits over the country, while their Jewish friends suffer, money raises its important head and music and dance seem the only genuine escapes.
The acting is very good from our two leads, and they are well supported by Joel Grey as the Emcee, who provides the bulk of the musical interludes in the film. These serve to continue the story and allow hidden meanings to come out for us as viewers, and Grey leads these very well. York's emotion fluctuates throughout the film, and his is perhaps the better performance. Minelli is very good, but there's no short measure of over acting at times, and this does put me off somewhat, and reminds me that this is an actress performing and not a real person I'm watching.
The direction from Bob Fosse is very good, patience shown throughout the film to let the story tell itself. I admired this and thought that it worked better because it wasn't rushed. The choreography in the musical sections is matched by that of the emotional choreography throughout the film, something to certainly be praised as you realise that what this is about above all else is romance, and how two unsuited people try to push their low self confidence to one side in order to be happy.
However, it does show that this is sometimes just not possible. The self destructive nature of two people in love is shown to be fickle when one charming rich person is thrown into the fray, and the elements of religion and politics are given their just desserts with the occasional scene focusing on them. I think most things are shown in here, right down to the genuine sexual illnesses certain dodgy clubs housed. Again, merely mentioned, but enough to be memorable.
It's all here, but this is probably one for the purists - its entertainment factor has limits as the story's depth is quite specific. Minelli's finale of singing is well worth a watch, as are all of the musical elements, and you can see that this is Fosse's forte, but don't be put off by my initial reluctance to warrant its place in the top 500. It's still a very good film, but not nearly as good as I had thought it would be. Still, this is the benefit of personal opinion, I suppose. Others may disagree and I know some people who think this to be genius. You can make your own mind up.
Summary: Entertaining musical based romance set in 1930s Berlin