What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, scratch below the pretty surface of this iconic 1950s musical and some dated and slightly racy themes appear: about how important it is to make your man happy and whether it's better to be a wife or a mistress. Still, tweens and teens who give it a try will be entranced by the splendidness and charm of it all, and will likely put such plot points within the film's historical context. There's no swearing or nudity, and any drinking and smoking is done so socially.
What's the story?
It's the turn of the century -- 20th century -- Paris, and young Gigi (Leslie Caron) is poised to follow in her aunt's (Isabel Jeans) and grandmother's (Hermione Gingold) footsteps to become a highly courted courtesan in this cinematic adaptation of author Colette's novella. It's serious business that requires serious training, but Gigi is constantly distracted by their family friend, the affluent and popular bachelor Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan). As they spend more time together, the two grow to care for one another. But Gigi's expected to be a mistress; can she really be the wife? Especially since love, to her, seems befuddling and mysterious? Besides, she's changing as she perfects her craft, and Gaston may not appreciate the metamorphosis. Can their love last?
Is it any good?
As one of GIGI's most popular songs goes, "Thank heaven for little girls," and that much is true for the film in general. It's an Academy Award-winning classic for a reason -- or, rather, so many reasons: inventive plot, memorable music (by Alan Jay Lerner and Fritz Loewe), swoony costumes (by the legendary Cecil Beaton), and inspiring performances. With Paris as the backdrop, no less. At times the film feels almost too perfect, as though engineered for maximum effect but lacking heft, and today's audiences may find the way it prettifies its subject matter -- Gigi is being prepared, essentially, for mistress-hood -- off-puttingly old-fashioned. But the doubts fall away after the opening credits and the charm offensive begins.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why Gigi is being trained to become a great courtesan/mistress? Why is this a lofty (at least in Paris during that time period) goal? Or isn't it?
What makes Gigi so appealing to Gaston? Is there something off-putting in the idea that an older family friend like him ends up dating a younger woman he's known since her teens? (Gigi's age isn't specified, but there are references to her being young.)
Clearly, some themes in the film are dated (specifically the role of women), but they're worth discussing. What do you think of how men are fought for in this society, and the women who are groomed to please them?