Yikes. This kind of film is even less enjoyable to me than Westerns are. This is number 63 on AFI’s 2007 top 100 list, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be one that I never watch again.
Cabaret is not a bad film, but it’s about people I find hard to care about, and it gets kinda artsy in spots, which is deadly to me. Specifically, the opening and the closing sequences (with the MC played by Joel Grey) are trying to be Meaningful-with-a-capital-M. And there are the little scenes thrown in here and there that are Symbolic-with-a-capital-Sym.
It probably would have helped had I felt sympathetic towards Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), but I was mostly cringing when she was on screen. The one thing she had going for her was that she makes no pretence at being anything other than a fun-seeking American in the middle of pre-war Germany.
She meets Brian Roberts (Michael York) when he’s looking for a place to live, and she immediately takes him under her wing — the impetus being that she can finally speak English again. His character is actually likeable, and he puts up with an amazing amount of poor treatment by Sally.
Overshadowing everything is the rise of Nazism, and there are a couple of scenes to bring this out. But of course we’re supposed to use it as something to highlight (contrast with? underscore? there’s a word here I’m looking for but failing to find; I blame my gin and tonic) the relationship between Roberts and Bowles.
There’s a brief moment of happiness, actually, but it’s too brief. Maybe it’s really me just projecting happiness onto the couple. Insert debate here. But in the end, Bowles takes matters into her own hands. Anything else would be out of character. The happiness was illusory, as far as she was concerned, and the sooner Roberts confronts that, the better off he’ll be. Or at least something like that, anyway — did I mention I don’t care for these sorts of films?
And then it has an Ending. Yeah, with a capital E. Sigh.