We went to see the film Burlesque last weekend. This, even after I had read review after review panning it. I don‘t care. I idolize Cher and I’d go to see anything she was a part of. I was not disappointed and neither was my husband who normally doesn’t care for this film genre. I laughed, I cried, I clapped my hands, all the way through the film and at the end—just like everyone else in the theatre with us, including that guy sitting beside me.
Critics complained that Christina Aguilera sang the hell out of every song. Well, duh. She did and her renditions were fabulous. The moment she opened her mouth to sing, electricity zinged from the screen, transforming into a frisson of excitement and delight pinging up and down my spine. That’s what musicals are all about. The dancing was tantalizingly thrilling as well and would make one heck of a workout to do behind closed doors. I wish I had just one of the glamorous costumes to wear around the house for a day. Paul Giamatti made a loveable sidekick and got his own little sub-plot whose resolution was probably the most real-life scene in the film.
Of course, the story was predictable and the characters as well. Every commercial American film is predictable in that there is a certain formula that must be followed in order that the film be produced at all. As an amateur screenwriter, I know that formula by heart. What’s fun for me is to see how the screenwriter makes the story come alive and how it goes from point A to Z. I know in the last 5-10 minutes every conflict will seem as though it cannot be resolved and then, magically, the writer presents the solution for every single one. Voilà, the happy ending American audiences expect.
If you’re not paying attention all the way through, you miss the foreshadowing that makes resolution possible. Who knew the seemingly innocent exchange about retaining air space rights between the seductive bad guy and the good girl trying to make it in L.A. and still retain her morals will have such import by the end of the film? Writers know. Nothing is in a well-written film without a purpose.
Besides Cher and Christina, the dancing, costumes and music, what I liked about Burlesque was that this film about a “naughty” entertainment form was not a naughty film. There was no continually streaming F-word, no violence, no gratuitous sex, no car chases—none of the obligatories I detest, stuck in films for men ages 18-34 which we are told make up the largest movie-going audiences in the United States. In Burlesque, morality reigned. I need some of that, living in this chaotic world where often people don’t seem to care about anything or anyone, including themselves.
Here’s another thing. Cher and I are the same age. She is like the real me inside. For a few hours and a few bucks, I can be her. Cher learned her smarts the hard way, through life’s knocks and without the benefit of higher education, so I like listening to her in real life, too. She tells it like it is. She should be writing a book of her philosophies learned. I know she can write because she wrote one of the best scenes in the film, the one where she shows Christina how to apply her stage makeup. She works hard to be who she is and to look like she does. Well, Cher and a few plastic surgeons, and an intense physical workout every day walking in the Malibu hills. That perseverance and truth-telling inspire me. I identified with the song she sang in the film. Most women my age who’ve been through a world of crap would.
Diablo Cody (another wonder) wrote the first go-round script of this film and then it went through two other writers’ hands, ending up with final touches added by the director. You can find out more information about the film on Wikipedia or at IMDB.com. A sound track of the music is available, songs sung by both Christina Aguilera and Cher.
Like those critics, I have my own prediction. This film will end up on Broadway and may inspire new forms of burlesque itself. I’d like that, because being naughty while being nice is fun.