Gigi (1958)

Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Written by Alan Jay Lerner

Vincente Minnelli is a director that is held in some regard. He is by no means championed as one of the few greatest directors of all time, but he has produced some notable films and had a solid career in the directors chair. However, I do not know anything about that, as when I sat down this morning to watch this film, it was the first time I had taken a seat for one of his films (I have also not seen one of his films standing up or lying down, just to clarify). Gigi won all 9 Academy Awards it was nominated for in 1959, a pretty impressive feat, though I failed to take a look at its competition.

Gigi (Leslie Caron) is a little girl in Paris, France at the turn of the century who comes from a family that is not super rich, though clearly not dirt poor either. Her grandmother is training her to become a mistress to the rich, someone who knows all about high society, yet resists ever marrying. One of the family’s good friends, Gaston (Louis Jourdan), likes to come around and even takes Gigi on some fun trips. He is the best of friends with the girl. But when he starts to fall in love, things get complicated for the two, and Gigi’s family.

The movie is a musical, and as such is full of songs which are ways of conversation between characters in this film. However, for it being a musical, the music really did take a back seat. I cannot say whether that is a shame or not, but overall I found the songs to be pretty forgettable. For that reason I wonder if they should have done more with the music, when it seemed they did so little. Or if they should have scrapped the whole musical idea. Whatever the case may be, the story ended up being bogged down by it in my opinion. It did not add to the charm or wit of the film.

The film did have its charm, however. It came in the form of the amazing costumes and locations of the film. Being set in turn of the century Paris, everything anyone wore on screen was great to watch. The fashion was so interesting and the manner in which it was shot was beautiful too. Good cinematography, but a lot of that had to do with shooting all over Paris and the rest of France. It added the type of feel you would expect from a “classic”.

Yet, as the film went on, it became more and more evident to me that it was, well, “such a bore,” to steal a line from the film. None of the acting was significant or interesting and I found that the humor often fell flat for me. The characters were only mildly interesting to the point that I didn’t really care what happened with Gigi and Gaston, and I cared even less about any of the other characters and whatever they happened to be involved with. It is not a horrible film, in fact it has plenty to make it worth while. It just happens to be a fairly average film that doesn’t seem to bear repeating. At least that is what my memory is telling me.

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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