Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Director: Billy Wilder
Running Time: 125 mins
The Apartment is an American film about a single man who, in order to gain promotions in his job, allows a group of his superiors to use his apartment as a bachelor pad every night, however it leads to significant complications when he finds a girl of his own to spend time with in the apartment.
This is an excellent film, it’s got some stunning performances, great directing by Billy Wilder, a generally upbeat and entertaining atmosphere despite the more dramatic tone of some of the plot, and a fantastic blend of the classic romantic comedy genre with a big drama.
The two leads here are Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, and they’re both brilliant. Lemmon plays this relatively awkward man, who has become a complete pushover thanks to his letting of the apartment to his superiors all this time, whilst MacLaine plays an elevator attendant who seems so chipper and lovely, and yet is clearly not quite the perfect woman that Lemmon’s character thinks at first.
They both put in performances with a great deal of energy and sense of fun, but also manage to take on the dramatic development of their characters very well, which was very impressive to see. Although MacLaine’s character arc isn’t as fascinating, it’s Lemmon’s character that has an intriguing development over the course of the story.
It’s not just a generic turn from awkward to self-confident, but it’s a development that unfolds very naturally and effortlessly. I barely noticed how he changed throughout the film, and yet subconsciously was made aware of his rapid development, which is arguably the best way to do a character arc: it’s subtle, not cheesy, and very effective.
That character intrigue makes for a very engrossing watch when the drama comes along, and it is properly exciting to watch. It reminds me a little of Wilder’s other famous romantic comedy, The Seven Year Itch, which has absolutely fascinating drama, but also manages to maintain this light, easy-going feel to it.
This is still a lot darker than The Seven Year Itch in terms of some of the issues it deals with, but the prevailing atmosphere is still a jolly one. That comes in part from the excellent screenplay that’s full of laughs, Lemmon’s upbeat and likeable performance, and Billy Wilder’s portrayal of the story in the romantic comedy format, despite it having so much more beneath the surface, and that’s why I’ll give The Apartment an 8.4.