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Burlesque

Burlesque: A Glitzy Climb to Fame

  • Alan CummingCher...
  • DramaMusicals...
  • Steve Antin
reviewed by
Haisam Abu-Samra
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Burlesque: A Glitzy Climb to Fame

Unlike Nine, last year’s musical,
Burlesque is unabashedly willing to
embrace its   fun-loving side. The film is
an endless shimmering ride in the town of razzle dazzle. It’s glitzy, campy and
glitters with an explosive sense of glee that makes your brain shrink
to the size of a diamond. And that’s where the trouble begins; halfway
through watching you realise that Burlesque
has nothing else to offer other
than diva-in-the-making clichés and energetic dance numbers.

At heart, this is a throwback to the timeless ‘poor country girl
rises to fame’ tale. Ali (Aguilera) is an all-American girl and waitress in
Iowa who quits her job to follow her dreams in Los Angeles. She lands a job waitressing
at a burlesque club owned by the tough Tess (Cher). Ali then auditions to be a
dancer at the club, she gets the job mostly because of her tenacity, but the
unimpressed Tess advises her to work harder on her dancing.

In one scene, when Ali is rehearsing, a song that she has been
lip-synching to abruptly cuts, she carries on singing herself. To everyone’s
surprise, she has an amazing voice. Tess decides to retool the next show and cast
Ali as the star. Tess hopes that the show can put her club back into the
spotlight so that she can finally pay off her debts, while Ali finds herself
caught in a love triangle with a wealthy lothario (Dane) and a husky bartender (Gigandet).

Right from their first scene together, Cher and Aguilera share great
chemistry. Pairing the two singers is a match made in diva heaven. It also
achieves a superstar equilibrium that prevents Burlesque from turning into a diva vanity project in the vein of
Mariah Carey’s Glitter. Aguilera
holds her own as an actress, but it’s mostly Cher
that stands out the most. Both divas offers cabaret renditions of famous songs,
but hardly any of them will be memorable in the long run.  

Aside from the modern setting, the film makes no attempt to put the
slightest spin on the predictably archetypical characters or the formula.
Instead, Burlesque is a loving
regression to golden-age musicals, cramming in every stereotype of the
musical genre.

Musical fans will love the film’s tongue-in-cheek humour and sense of joy; some
may even find the escalating melodrama to be a goldmine of unintentional comedy;
while others might find it to be camp overkill. One thing is for sure; there is
no middle ground in Burlesque; you
will either love it or hate it.

Like This? Try

Showgirls, Dreamgirls, Chicago

360 Tip

Patrick Dempsey, Sam Worthington, Casey Affleck and Jamie Foxx were among the actors considered for the role of Marcus, the businessman interested in buying Cher's club. The role ultimately went to Eric Dane.

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