French Cancan Review

Before Luhrman’s glossy Moulin Rouge there was Renoir’s French Cancan, a beautifully constructed musical comedy about the cabaret club’s origin.

Renoir’s classic follows entrepreneur Henri Danglard (Jean Gabin) as he sets about creating a new cabaret club after discovering talented dancer Nini (Francoise Arnoul). Although the jealousy of his mistress, his fickle financial backers and Nini’s various suitors all threaten the future of the club.

Despite this simple premise Renoir’s execution is dazzling, as he combines music, humour and verve to create a truly memorable experience.

Renoir regular Jean Gabin is fantastic as the laid back Danglard, a man who despite being very kind hearted has a selfish side. Also great is Francoise Arnoul as Nini, bringing the much needed charm to the role. As well as having a strong cast, it is littered with cameos from Edith Piaf, Patachou and André Claveau among others.

The restored print of French Cancan is really something of aesthetic beauty, accentuating the richness of the set design and costumes which really bring out the elegance of the era. This is especially true of the superbly orchestrated eight minute musical climax of the film which easily rivals the great musicals of Classical Hollywood.

Verdict

A beautifully restored version of a Renoir classic which is an absolute must see especially for fans of Moulin Rouge.

The Restored version of French Cancan will be showing at the BFI Southbank and selected cinemas nationwide from August 5th 2011.

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