Star cast: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Eric Dane.
Plot: Christina Aguilera, a small-town girl, finds a job as a cocktail waitress in Burlesque Lounge in Los Angeles. She wants to graduate to a dancer in the stage shows that are the main attraction of the lounge. Does she make it?
What’s Good: The choreography of the dance sequences; a few songs; the camerawork.
What’s Bad: The average script; uninspiring performances; under-developed and stereotypical characters.
Verdict: Burlesque is entertaining in parts only. It will appeal only to a few male members of the audience for its provocative dances, and to dance aficionados for the choreography.
Loo break: Several, especially when the film drags in the last few reels due to the many songs, some of which are not entertaining.
Watch or Not? Go watch Burlesque if you have nothing better to do this weekend. Or better, just wait for the film’s DVD!
De Line Pictures’ Burlesque is about a small-town girl who makes it big in a dance club on the sheer strength of her confidence and singing talent and about what happens when she becomes successful.
Ali (Christina Aguilera) leaves her job as a waitress in Iowa, US, to travel to Los Angeles to do something with her life. Although she is untrained, she likes to sing and dance. In LA, she puts up in a hotel and job-hunts until she finds a dance club, Burlesque Lounge, where she takes up the job of a cocktail waitress. The lounge has a troupe of dancers who wear skimpy clothes and dance to recorded music. Ali’s real aspiration is to get on stage and perform with the all-girls dance troupe. But Tess (Cher), the owner of the lounge, refuses to listen to her repeated requests. Ali becomes friendly with Jack (Cam Gigandet), who is a bartender in the lounge. She even starts staying with him after her hotel room is burgled. Slowly, Ali and Jack start developing feelings for each other but they stay away as Jack has a fiancée, who is away in New York for work.
One day, in a chance encounter, Ali manages to audition for a dancer’s post. Tess and her assistant, Sean (Stanley Tucci), like Ali’s moves. She gets the job and does well but is shunned by the rest of the dancers, including the lead dancer, Nikki (Kristen Bell), who sees Ali as a threat. However, Tess supports Ali. Soon, Ali learns that the lounge is in a terrible financial mess and might have to be sold off to a rich man, Marcus (Eric Dane), who wants to build a housing condo in its place. But an adamant Tess, who considers the lounge to be her life, won’t sell it. By another twist of fate, Ali gets a chance to sing on stage after Nikki disconnects the music during one of Ali’s shows. Ali’s unconventional singing is a rage and Tess changes her whole show to make Ali the lead dancer and singer. Soon, the footfalls in Burlesque Lounge increase as more and more people queue up to see the now famous Ali. Marcus, too, takes a liking to Ali and showers her with gifts. All the dancers suddenly start loving her. All the attention gets to Ali’s mind and she changes a little, even accepts Marcus’ moves towards her. Jack, knowing that Ali might not be there for him anymore, declares that he has broken up with his fiancée. Ali and Jack have a passionate night together but only till Jack’s fiancée arrives and exposes his lie. Ali storms out of the house and goes to Marcus, whom she later rejects as he wants to bring down the lounge. Both, Tess and Ali, are stressed as only two days are left before the lounge is taken over by the bank. What do they do to save it? Do Jack and Ali make up? The climax reveals the rest.
Script and Screenplay
Burlesque has plenty of song-and-dance sequences, making it seem, at times, like a musical. Although the overall quality of the music is good, and both actor-singers, Cher and Christina Aguilera, do well, the film does seem like a long music video at times. That is because Steven Antin’s script is just average. The story is predictable, and there is nothing more to it than what the film’s trailers show. All the characters, except Ali, remain under-developed. Jack’s fiancée is just that, the distant fiancée ; Sean, otherwise brilliant, turns out to be the stereotypical gay character; the black dancer, Coco, gets to dance around a lot but has no dialogues at all…the list is endless.
The screenplay seems random at times as the songs do not flow into the scenes and they seem forced at times. Also, the dialogues are not impressive.
You notice these flaws only because the lead actors fail to live up to your expectations. Christina Aguilera begins well and sings and dances like a song, but she falters in the latter part of the film, especially the scenes which require her to emote. Cher has aged gracefully and has the screen presence but delivers a patchy performance. Cam Gigandet is endearing but he has not been able to rise above the average script. Eric Dane and Stanley Tucci do well. Alan Cumming and Peter Gallagher (as Tess’ ex-husband) fill the bill. The dancers – Julianne Hough, Kristen Bell, Dianna Agron, Chelsea Traille, Tanee McCall and Tyne Stecklein – look good and dance very well.
Direction, Music and Camerawork
Director Steven Antin would have made a far superior film had he taken a raunchier setting (Burlesque dances often involve striptease, etc.) and written a better script. In their absence, his film falters. Antin, however, manages to impress be creating a lavish lounge. The glamour in the film is very palpable.
As mentioned before, the film’s songs are good. Michael Kaplan’s costume design is colourful and matches the setting of the film. Bojan Bazelli’s camerawork brings the stage parts of the film to life. Editing, by Virginia Katz, is strictly okay.
The Last Word
All in all, Burlesque is less than the sum of its parts. The average script, and the fact that the plethora of songs irritate after a while, will not endear the film to a majority of the Indian audiences.