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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

La Cage Aux Folles

***** La Cage Aux Folles. Comedy.

Directed by: Edouard Molinaro
Starring: Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault, Claire Maurier, Remi Laurent, Benny Luke, Luisa Maneri, Michel Galabru

I'd originally seen this years ago, and loved it, so I bought the DVD recently after being reminded of it by one of Moondancer Drake's posts. It's such a classic, I felt it needed to be in our library.

The story is about a gay couple, Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) and Albin (Michel Serrault) living in St. Tropez. Renato's son Laurent (Remi Laurent) is getting married, but he's worried about how his fiancee's father will react to their lifestyle, so Laurent talks them into pretending to be straight when Andrea (Luisa Maneri) and her parents (Michel Galabru & Carmen Scarpitta) visit.

Which isn't as easy as it sounds. Renato owns a cabaret, and Albin, in drag as "Zaza", is the star attraction. They live above the club.

On the other side, the fiancee's father is head of the conservative party which is in the middle of a moral scandal, and so it's extra-important for him that his daughter's wedding be the epitome of conservative family values.

Complicating matters further are the barefoot French maid Jacob (Benny Luke) and Laurent's biological mother (Claire Maurier).

The DVD offers the choice of watching it dubbed or in the original French with subtitles. The original is vastly better, even though I don't speak French. The emotion comes through in the voice--you can get the meaning from the words in the subtitles.

And even in French with subtitles, I laughed myself silly. La Cage Aux Folles is a comedy, full of sight gags and hilarious situations, but like all very good comedies, it has an underlying seriousness that gives is meaning. Unsurprisingly, there's a theme of prejudice and acceptance, and being yourself.

The contrast between Laurent's and Andrea's families is pertinent but subtle: Laurent's home is brighter, more cheerful, and there's more affection between Renato and Albin than between Andrea's parents.

It's a shorter movie than I remembered, but every scene counts. The actors are all perfect in their roles, and even the flamboyant Albin/Zaza doesn't come off as a caricature.

I saw the remake Birdcage when it came out years ago, and it really doesn't compare. I did, though, put it in our Netflix queue so we can compare.

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I love this movie - even the cameos are delicious! Thanks for the reminder of a fun movie! :)
Just passing on the favor--I hadn't thought of it in years until I read Xakara's post. :)
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