Thursday, June 02, 2016

La Cage aux Folles

Based on the play by Jean Poiret, La Cage aux Folles is the story of a gay couple who learns that their son is getting married to the daughter of an ultra-conservative family as they try to pretend to be straight for this meeting between two families. Directed by Edouard Molinaro and screenplay by Molinaro, Marcello Danon, Jean Poiret, and Francis Verber, the film is an exploration into the life of a middle-aged gay couple who deal with the meeting of a family who are nothing like them. Starring Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault, Remi Laurent, Luisa Maneri, Carmen Scarpitta, and Michel Galabru. La Cage aux Folles is wild and exhilarating film from Edouard Molinaro.

The film revolves around a middle-aged gay couple who try to pretend to be straight for their son as they’re about to meet his fiance’s parents whose father is a ultra-conservative political leader dealing with a scandal. It’s a film with just a simple plot that revolves these two men as one of them is a drag club owner and its director while his partner is the star of the club. Once they learn their son is going to marry to a young girl while realizing who her parents are, hilarity ensues where the club owner Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) does whatever he can to either hide his lover Albin (Michel Serrault) or try to make him straight. The film’s script doesn’t just play into these two men put into a situation where they try to help their son Laurent (Remi Laurent) though they admit they’re not fond about him marrying a girl they don’t really know. Still, it is about wanting to make him happy as they also have to deal with other issues. Upon meeting Simon Charrier (Michel Galabru), his wife Louise (Carmen Scarpitta) and daughter Andrea (Luisa Maneri), it is all about to see if they can do good for Laurent.

Edouard Molinaro’s direction is very lavish for not just the way he presents the lifestyle of this middle-aged gay couple where it opens with what they do at their nightclub where there’s a lot of drag performers and such. The film does open with its very intricate and dazzling tracking shot as it plays into its atmosphere. Much of it is very simple while Molinaro’s approach to the humor is very loose in the way characters interact with each other or in a situation. Even in its usage of close-ups and medium shots where Molinaro observes what is happening between Renato and Albin which includes a scene of the former teaching the latter how to act straight. The climatic meeting between the two families does start off tense and awkward yet once Albin makes his appearance, it does becomes a full-blown comedy where it would top itself. Especially as it relates to Charrier who becomes baffled by where he is at as well as knowing he’s being hounded by press forcing him to find a way to avoid scandal. Overall, Molinaro creates a lively and exciting film about a gay couple pretending to be straight for their son in meeting his fiance’s very conservative parents.

Cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography to play into the lavish lights for the club‘s interiors as well as some of the very colorful locations of St. Tropez where Renato and Albin live. Editors Monique and Robert Isnardon do nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into the humor and the reaction of some of its characters. Production designer Mario Garbuglia and set decorator Carlo Gervasi do fantastic work with the look of the club as well as the home of Renato and Albin with all of its air of style in the things they have as opposed to the more conservative look of Charrier.

The costumes by Ambra Danon are amazing for the many stylish clothes Renato and Albin wear to play into their lively personalities as well as their attempts to look straight. The sound work of Mario Dallimonti does terrific work with the sound as it play into some of the chaotic moments in the redecorating as well as some of the raucous moments at the club. The film’s music by Ennio Morricone is brilliant as it is this mixture of late 70s dance/disco and cabaret music with some classical elements that are low key as it plays into much the film’s humor as it is one of his more underrated scores.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Carlo Reali as the club bouncer, Angelo Pellegrino as Renato’s assistant at the club, Guido Cerniglia as a doctor early in the film, Venantino Venantini as Charrier’s chauffer, and Liana Del Balzo as Charrier’s mother. Benny Luke is fantastic as Renato and Albin’s flamboyant servant Jacob whose attempt to be straight is very funny as well as the fact that is cool towards Renato and warm to Albin. Carmen Scarpitta is wonderful as Charrier’s wife Louise who hopes the wedding will kill the scandal while Luisa Maneri is terrific as Charrier’s daughter Andrea who created a lie in order to protect Laurent and his family while trying to not cause more trouble for her father. Claire Maurier is excellent as Laurent’s real mother Simone who agrees to help Renato and Albin despite resistance from the latter who doesn’t like Simone.

Remi Laurent is brilliant as Renato and Albin’s son Laurent who decides to get married as he deals with the fact that he is facing his Andrea’s parents where he copes with the fear of being hurt. Michel Galabru is amazing as Simon Charrier as a conservative politician who deals with a scandal that could ruin him as he frets over meeting Laurent’s parents where he is intrigued by Albin unaware of what he really is. Ugo Tognazzi is marvelous as Renato as a club owner/director who at first doesn’t want to change anything only to realize how much Laurent loves Andrea where helps him as well as try to teach Albin to act straight as the French version of the film features dubbing by Pierre Mondy. Finally, there’s Michel Serrault in a fabulous performance as Albin as a drag performer who is filled with many issues about himself as it’s a very loud and proud performance that manages to steal the show including the moments where he tries to act straight.

La Cage aux Folles is a spectacular film from Edouard Molinaro that features dazzling performances from Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi. It’s a film that explores the world between gay and straight as well as what happens when two different ideals collide in a hilarious fashion. In the end, La Cage aux Folles is a sensational film from Edouard Molinaro.

Related: The Birdcage

© thevoid99 2016

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