Gigi is a 1958 musical romance film directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars Leslie Caron, Louis Jordan, and Maurice Chevalier.
The film takes place in 20th century Paris and centers on a happy-go-lucky, carefree young girl named Gigi (Leslie Caron), (Oh what? You couldn't figure that out on your own?). She livers with her grandmother, Mamita, and the two get frequent visits from the wealthy and nice-mannered Gaston (Louis Jordan). Gaston finds life to be a total snooze, while Gigi is sent to her snobbish Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) to learn lessons in etiquette and how to be a mature, upstanding young citizen. Gaston is in a rut after spending time with various mistresses, but his life is given a new spark as he begins to spend more time with Gigi, visiting her and her grandmother more often. A mutual love develops between the two, but their relationship doesn't come without some outside opposition.
It really bothers me how much that I really wanted to love Gigi. I find Leslie Caron to be a charming and attractive actress from her time, and I am one to admit that I do love an aww-inducing love story every now and then. The fact that this movie could feature both of those things, and also the fact that it's a Best Picture winner had me hopeful that I could love and adore it. I didn't hate Gigi, because there are parts of it that I liked. It might be heavily reliant on some generic love story elements, but it's just so dang sweet that I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least somewhat charmed by Leslie Caron and Louise Jordan as an on-screen couple. Their age range might be large enough to make some viewers uncomfortable, but I didn't let it be a distraction. I find Gigi to be a rather unique musical experience, because almost every song is sung by a lone character with no flashy dancing or assistant vocals in the background. It isn't bad, it's just...unique.
- Leslie Caron is lovable and bubbly as the innocent and carefree Gigi. Gigi is constantly smiling and has a general upbeat feel to her. You should have a likable main character if the center plot point is the blooming of an intimate relationship between them and someone else.
- The film has colorful cinematography, having an overall artsy feel to it. The settings look ripe with fresh colors, and they create a positive vibe to complement the romantic aroma that the film wants to maintain. Visual eye candy isn't always a bad thing, right?
- There is an underlying message within the film and it is not a nice one at all. The film opens with Gaston's uncle, Honore (Maurice Chevalier), who remarks that marriage isn't the only option for wealthy boys like Gaston. He then proceeds to sing a song titled, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls", and if that title alone doesn't eventually send your mind into a bad place, lyrics such as, "Each time I see a little girl / I can't resist a joyous urge" or, "Those little eyes / So helpless and appealing" will. I am not sure if Vincente Minneli was aware of these lyrics and the fact they appear to be promoting pedophilia. The fact that an older man is singing the song doesn't do any favors in helping the cause. I want to think that it was screenwriter Alan Jay Lerner's intention on creating an optimistic outlook on the future for little girls, thinking that the lyrics are implying that we should be happy for them because they will do great things in the future. Still, when the lyrics imply that the singer gets happy urges whenever he sees a little girl, that is not going to be taken very kindly by a lot of people.
Gigi is sweet and colorful enough to make you feel warm and cheerful inside, but the fact that the film is suggesting to cater to and win over little girls is too much to ignore. It must've been unintentional, I guess. Nonetheless, the hazy message regarding pedophilia blocks Gigi from ever achieving the status of classic love story. I myself am disappointed, because I really did want to love it!
Recommend? It has its moments. I'd check it out if you get the time to.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: