An American in Paris
Between the UK premiere of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and this newly restored print of Vincente Minnelli’s ravishing MGM musical, the 2011 Cambridge Film Festival should have done wonders for the French tourism industry. Both films share an ebullient love of the French capital’s rich history as a mecca for artists as well as lovers, and openly bask in this unashamedly romanticised view. But where Allen’s film can only boast a brief Cole Porter cameo and Owen Wilson’s attempt at a Charleston, Minnelli gets the twin cannons of Gene Kelly at the top of his game and a belter of a score by George Gershwin.
The plot could be written on the back of a pinhead of course (Kelly’s struggling artist must choose between the woman he loves and the woman he doesn’t), but never mind that; we’re here to see some top notch music and dance and, at a sprightly sixty years old, An American in Paris doesn’t disappoint. The songs may be fairly forgettable, but the score will have you toe-tapping all the way through. It’s funny too: Oscar Levant’s grumpy penniless pianist counterbalances Kelly’s eternally hopeful romantic perfectly. Towards the end Minnelli more or less abandons the story and treats us to a fabulous musical sequence set within a technicolor world of pen and ink, a slice of pure visual poetry. And when you have Kelly and Gershwin cutting loose, why let something as trivial as a script get in the way? Simply joyous.
- Midnight In Paris by John Cunningham
- Notorious by Gavin Midgley (Associate Editor)
- Interview with Céline Sciamma by Rosy Hunt (Editor-in-Chief)