Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller
Director: John Badham
Running Time: 114 mins
Saturday Night Fever is an American film about a young man who rules the disco dancefloors of Brooklyn on Saturday night, but suffers in a bleak and hard life every day.
This is undoubtedly the ultimate 70s movie. With a classic soundtrack, groovy dancing and outfits, there’s a lot to enjoy about the brilliantly smooth Saturday Night Fever. However, there’s still a lot more to it than that, thanks to an interesting story revolving around the lives of working class families in Brooklyn, and although it’s by no means as captivating as the dance story, it still works very well.
Let’s start with the thing that I loved most about Saturday Night Fever, the groovy disco vibe. Right from the iconic first scene, the Bee Gees’ perfect soundtrack plays again and again throughout the various episodes of young Tony Manero’s life, putting you firmly in the disco scene even before anyone steps onto the dancefloor.
And although this is in truth a gritty drama, it’s the dancing that really stand out. In the colourful 2001 Odyssey club, we get a heap of brilliantly-choreographed dance scenes that aren’t only entertaining to watch in and of themselves, but do add a lot to the other story that we see unfold in this film, about the relationship between Manero and a young woman who becomes his dance partner for a competition at the club.
For me, I was more engrossed in that aspect of the plot, because it subverts the general Hollywood relationship by not being particularly romantic, but more a look at the way that the two separate characters, both of whom have clashing and matching qualities, interact and develop over the course of their relationship, which was fantastic to see.
The other part of the plot here is all about the lives of working class families in Brooklyn, which was interesting too. Although it often felt like the gritty nature of this side of the story clashed a little with the other half, the fact that we go so deep into exploring the background of this young man means that the dancing scenes do mean a lot more than just dancing.
What’s more is that the screenplay brilliantly balances these three plot elements. Although I felt there were some tonal clashes, this film does very well to keep all three sides to the story interesting and fresh throughout. There’s never a point where you get fed up looking at one side of the plot, because each part of the story is both detailed and still fast-moving enough to keep you engaged, which was great to see.
Overall, I liked Saturday Night Fever. I don’t think it’s a great film, and its tonal inconsistencies do have a frustrating impact on your interest and entertainment at times, but the excellent disco vibe to one side of the story, and the well-written screenplay, make it a thoroughly engaging watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.