35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
A memorable work of art,
This review is from: Cabaret - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
At the time it was released, Cabaret drew some serious critical support - Liza Minelli appeared on the cover of Time magazine in full Cabaret costume. Her career never really got any more high profile than that.
Has the film aged well? The first thing you notice when you look at again is the almost loving way the film has been shot, especially the cabaret scenes themselves. Most of the production numbers are utterly compelling - such as the famous finale of an exuberant Sally Bowles singing "Cabaret" itself. Also watch out for another show stopper - the newly-in-love Sally singing the haunting "Maybe This Time", giving it her all before just a few tired remaining members of the audience.
The device of contrasting a pervasive sense of decadence against the rise of Nazi Germany has, however, dated badly...apart from the neat, disturbing conclusion.
The film's saving grace is that it does not stand or fall on Minnelli's performance. Joel Grey's sinister, waif-like MC is one of those happy, inspired bits of casting that transforms a good film to a great one. Michael York's stiff, well-intentioned Englishman may be far from the actual personality Isherwood, but he works well as a counterpoint to Minnelli. The sub plot of jewish gigolo marrying jewish heiress is also touching, and well handled. There are cameo performances that are equally compelling, including another famous scene of a Hitler Youth leader rousing the crowd with an Aryan folk song.
Ultimately, though, the film's reputation rests on Minnelli's performance. Sexy, she ain't, but her extraordinary voice still raises the hairs on the back of your neck if you let it. And, under firm but creative directing, she is no slouch at acting. She is by turns touching, childlike, insufferable and vulnerable. A hard act to follow.
This is a film that deserves to live on.