Movie Post Season 2017: Round One
La La Land inspires An American In Paris
Ok, so, An American In Paris is one of those movies that I love immensely without remembering many of the details of, so I was excited to return to it. I mean, aside from the fact that it’s a Gene Kelly musical featuring songs by the Gershwins, if that’s not enough to catapult it into “classic” teritory, well, I don’t know what is.
Oh wait, yes I do. A poignant and small love story about ex-pats living in Paris after World War II, about art, and love and complications, and whether it’s worth hurting others to go after what your heart wants.
Plus, just, so much tap dancing.
Our hero, Jerry, is a struggling artist who stayed in Paris after the war to pursue said art. He has a friend named Adam who’s a cranky pianist, who really doesn’t do much of anything in the movie. Adam has a friend Henri, who’s a successful nightclub singer. The three of them often sing Gershwin songs together. Jerry also teaches batches of French children to speak English with “I’ve Got Rhythm,” and tap dancing.
Jerry is discovered by an artistic patron, the beautiful and sophisticated Milo Roberts, who’s also pretty in love with him. It’s too bad that Jerry’s in love with the beautiful and mysterious Lise, who is of course engaged to Henri!
WHAT A MESS!
But what I like about An American in Paris, is that this doesn’t devolve into farce and no one has to be a bad guy. Lise and Jerry spend time together and are in love, but neither is confident the relationship can go anywhere. Milo knows Jerry doesn’t return her feelings and is pretty well set on being his friend and patron regardless. Only Henri is really in trouble, he cares deeply for Lise but takes her love a bit for granted, even though she also has feelings for him.
I definitely misremembered the ending, which, is as I recalled, a twenty two minute long dream ballet through the city of Paris, where Jerry imagines what life would be like if he and Lise could be together, but they can’t because she’s marrying Henri and moving to America. But the last shot is Lise getting out of the car she and Henri had drove off in, and going to Jerry.
I like the happy ending, and I love that it happened without too many hurt feelings and no broken hearts. (Although poor Henri! Unlike many a third wheel in musicals, he’s no cad, just a bit preoccupied!) There’s something very adult happening in this movie that I think matters a whole lot more than many people quite realize!