Monday, July 20, 2015

Exuberantly Joyful: Singin' in the Rain Soars

Movie Review: Singin' in the Rain

Director: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

Reviewed: 20 July 2015

jamesintexas rating--****

How did I go this long without seeing such a glorious piece of cinema?

Singin' in the Rain is perched within the Top Ten Films of All-Time, according to the AFI List, and its imagery is second nature, yet when I finally sat down to watch it, I was really floored by its technical brilliance and dazzling color. The greatest visual effect, truly, is the human body as Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds show in frequent long takes, framed against gigantic sets, and accompanied by marvelous music. The film is about the rise of the talkies and what that means to silent film stars Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) who must suddenly make the transition to speaking their lines and using their actual voices. O'Connor shines as Lockwood's piano-playing buddy Cosmo Brown, and Reynolds shines as ingénue Kathy Selden, an aspiring actress whose meet cute with Lockwood involves him leaping into her coupe after an acrobatic escape from the press. The title song is the best sequence of the film, with Kelly stomping through puddles, soaring over streetlamps, and in essence, dancing with the world as his partner. The sequence on the stage with its use of the red lighting and the powerful fans is an equally powerful moment, and the aesthetics of this film are always captivating. I think it could be a wonderful first film to show to my son, thrilling to watch people leap and tap and bound, evoking a sweetness and an effervescence that simply cannot be faked. CGI dinosaurs and Gollum be damned, I'll take Gene Kelly's magical movement any day. Undeniably powerful.

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