Magazine article Screen International

Burlesque

Magazine article Screen International

Burlesque

Article excerpt

Dir-scr: Steven Antin. US. 2010. 118mins

Campy, sexy and shameless in all the ways one would expect, Burlesque demands viewers acquiesce to its frothy, strutting A Star Is Born tone, and those who do are in for a hoot. This musical -- the feature debut for both writer-director Steven Antin and pop star Christina Aguilera -- puts several feet wrong when it comes to narrative ingenuity and character subtlety, but its exuberant spirit and some choice supporting performers make for a lively night out.

As for Cher, it's a happy surprise that she gives a performance free of self-absorption, providing a comic zing to her wise-mother-hen role as the club's owner and spiritual centre.

Hoofing it into US theatres November 24, Burlesque faces a crowded Thanksgiving line-up. Aguilera's musical stardom is no guarantee for a film crossover, but if Sony can successfully sell the movie's sass (not to mention co-star Cher's first major role in many a moon), Burlesque may prove to be a guilty-pleasure alternative during the holiday season.

Just like many young hopefuls before her, aspiring Midwestern singer Ali (Aguilera) moves to Los Angeles to be discovered. Once in Hollywood, she finds The Burlesque Lounge, a club that offers song-and-dance numbers performed by sexy, scantily clad women. At first, club owner Tess (Cher) is unsure about letting inexperienced Ali join the show, but Ali's stunning singing voice soon makes her the club's main attraction.

For his first feature, Antin has mounted a razzle-dazzle production that at its foundation contains one of cinema's most well-worn stories: a naïve-but-plucky talent who goes to the big city to find love and fame. Assisted tremendously by choreographers Denise Faye and Joey Pizzi, Antin stages much of the action within the club's walls, where Ali and other dancers perform lascivious burlesque numbers seemingly inspired by the look of Moulin Rouge and the flash of Chicago. …

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