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Saturday, February 12, 2011
Big voice, even bigger dream
BURLESQUE starts off with glitter and promises but ends up being a mildly entertaining film about going for one's dreams.
Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a small-town girl with a big voice who decides to leave her boring job in Iowa and head to the bright lights in Los Angeles to follow her dreams. When she stumbles upon The Burlesque Lounge, a majestic but troubled theatre home to an inspiring cabaret, Ali is instantly mesmerised by the entertainment. She manages to get a job as a cocktail waitress from Tess (Cher), the club's owner and headliner. Supported by a string of gorgeous women with outrageous costumes and sexy choreography, Ali vows to be a part of Tess's entourage someday.
The plucky blonde becomes entangled with the charms of Jack (Cam Gigandet), a bartender and fellow musician; builds friendship with featured dancer Georgia (Julianne Hough) and finds an enemy in the troubled, jealous dancer Nikki (Kirsten Bell). With the help of sharp-witted stage manager Sean (Stanley Tucci), Ali makes her way from the bar to the stage.
Standing out with her spectacular voice, Tess's new found favourite restores The Burlesque Lounge to its former glory - not before the charismatic entrepreneur Marcus Gerber comes with an enticing proposal.
Written and directed by Steven Antin, the film captures the essence of the timeless world of burlesque, a musical and theatrical entertainment that involves parody and grotesque exaggeration. After the 20th century, burlesque has often been associated with stripping, remaining a misconception till today. In Antin's Burlesque, the risqué elements are evident throughout the film in bits and pieces but never venturing beyond a cheeky suggestion or double layered dialogue.
Although pre-dominantly a film about finding fame and love, the sub-plot of the film also involves the crafty reality of real estate. Tess and her ex husband, Vince (Peter Gallagher) face closure of their beloved Burlesque if they don't settle their payments. Marcus is the crooked real estate mogul who wants to buy Tess out, but she refuses. Only Ali's signature soulful singing might save the lounge's future unless, the young woman herself is bought over by the suave realtor's affections.
Musically, the songs featured in the film are lively yet easily forgettable, other than Cher's You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me, which won the best song award at the Golden Globes recently. The other songs the sexy girls dance and lip synch to are catchy but not the kind that makes one want to listen to after the film is over.
Although it is a frivolous and fun film, Burlesque lacks the pizazz of Chicago or the big time creativity of Moulin Rouge.
The well-timed songs injected into the film create a musical-life atmosphere and Aguilera, as the only singing girl besides resident diva Tess, lends a dramatic touch to the film. Cher is the perfect mistress for this lounge, portraying the embodiment of female empowerment throughout.
The supporting actresses look good on screen but play little part in adding value to the film. Aguilera is not the greatest actress but pulls of her alter-ego Ali well enough. The chemistry between her and barman-musician Jack was one of the more entertaining scenes in the film.
Burlesque will be screening in cinemas nationwide starting Feb 17.