Starring: Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Running Time: 115 mins
Gigi is an American film about a young Parisian woman whose friendship with an upper-class man begins to develop into something much more, although the customs of their society look down heavily on the prospect.
As far as classic musicals go, this isn’t that great. Whilst it’s wonderfully pretty to look at, thanks to some nice directing and great set and costume design, that’s pretty much all there is to it. The story has potential to provide some passion and drama, but it all feels a lot more stale, worsened by a series of repetitive songs that are forced into place far too often.
However, let’s first talk about the one good thing about Gigi, the look. Just as the best classic Hollywood musicals always managed to do, this is a visually bright and delightful movie that is hugely pleasant to look at. Director Vincente Minnelli gives the film a light and happy image through the use of ultra-saturated colour film (something called Metrocolor that MGM used to use in their movies), and that helps to make a relatively poor film a little easier to watch.
What’s really great to look at, however, is the production design. As far as attention to detail goes, Gigi gets ten out of ten, as the lush and intricate sets and costumes that burst with colour in every frame do make the film’s early 21st Century Paris setting fully convincing, and the story a visually engrossing watch throughout.
It’s safe to say, then, that this film is an absolute delight to look at, but if that weren’t the case, there really wouldn’t be much to write home about, because the rest of Gigi is really rather poor. Whilst I’m never looking for powerful and deep dramatic storytelling from a classic musical, the fact remains that the story here just isn’t that well-delivered.
There’s a lot about the plot that’s reminiscent of the second half of My Fair Lady, which frankly bored me as well, but the worst thing about Gigi is that it takes a potentially dramatic and romantically passionate story and wastes it by showing it off in the most stale way possible.
Apart from the fact that the majority of the dialogue feels painfully wooden, and the performances don’t do all that much to strengthen your belief of this supposed blossoming romance, the internal conflict and frustration that arise within our two main characters between their feelings and the restrictions of society just come off as totally black and white. As a result, you don’t get any dramatic sense of them wrestling with a real moral dilemma, which effectively cuts out the heart of the whole film.
Overall, Gigi is a simply dull film. Its story wastes an interesting and potentially dramatic premise with wooden dialogue and performances, and although it’s a visually wonderful film from start to finish, it’s a fairly boring watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7.