The dancing in An American in Paris is gorgeous. We saw it at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic playing the score, and we were lucky to have pretty great seats dead center. If you come away with nothing from this movie but the dancing and, to a lesser degree, the singing, then I think you’ll have a wonderful time. If you pay any attention to the story, however, you’ll probably raise a few eyebrows. The woman sitting behind me kept hmmm-ing at all of the many problematic elements.
While Gene Kelly’s character, Jerry, is out on a sort-of date with Milo, a woman who can help him with his painting career, he becomes infatuated with Lise, a nineteen-year-old who happens to be dating a friend of his (we know this, but he doesn’t find out until much later). Milo, who is age-appropriate and still more than a decade younger than Kelly in real life, is somehow styled to seem like a pretty but slightly dowdy older woman. Jerry blatantly ignores Milo and harasses a reluctant Lise into dancing with him and eventually comes away with her phone number despite her trying to give him a fake number.
Later, Jerry calls Lise (at work, because I guess she didn’t have a phone at home) and she tells him not to call her again, so what does he do? He goes to her work and harasses her more until she finally agrees to go on a date with him. Not out of pity, mind you, but because he did something silly and made her laugh and suddenly he’s okay.
Through all this, Lise is still dating Jerry’s friend Henri, who is a perfect gentleman as well as a professional singer. He never does anything terrible to her and in fact she seems to really like him, but she later admits that she isn’t in love with him because she’s fallen in love with Jerry.
So, to recap, Jerry is a pushy dickhead of a guy who goes to stalkerish lengths to “get the girl” and the girl in question isn’t really in a love triangle, she’s just cheating on her boyfriend (but they are in France so I guess it’s just what you do). Also there is a two decade age difference between Jerry and Lise and Leslie Caron looks every bit of her nineteen years.
Thank god for the dancing!
A version of this review was originally posted at Letterboxd.