The Apartment ★★★★★

One of the great all-time romantic comedies and if not, the romcom that started it all. The Apartment is a romcom with sophistication that heads into serious themes. But there is a lot of heart that leaves you feeling cosy. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, an insurance office worker who’s just another cog in the machine. So in order to move up in the company, he lends out his apartment to philandering executives who need a place to carry out their affairs. Baxter becomes infatuated with the lift girl Fran Kubelik, played by Shirley MacLaine only she is having an affair with the big boss Mr Jeff Sheldrake, who himself uses the apartment. With the overarching themes of secrets and love, the apartment represents a place where everything comes out and neighbourly gossip is the biggest problem.

Jack Lemmon is wonderful as the neurotic and calculating Baxter, who brings a lot of heart and magnetism to a character that most people would never notice. Shirley MacLaine is equally charming and seems vulnerable yet strong in a unique way. Along with these two leading players, every supporting character had something to bring to this film. The partying executives, the devious secretary, the naïve lover at Christmas and the Jewish neighbours who were real menschs.

The look of this film is undeniably unforgettable. It felt like almost every shot was iconic and belonged in a book of Hollywood history. It still holds up today, with dynamic camera movement and eye-catching shots with highly detailed sets. The shot in the office is so expertly planned out and a wonderful visual metaphor, complimented by a great soundtrack and an iconic theme.

For me, the apartment is a nice metaphor of exploring of the film’s main themes of secrets. Everybody in the film has a secret to hide, Baxter is hiding from everyone else that his apartment is used by his bosses who have their secret affairs and Fran is having an affair with a married man. In the end, the film shows the consequences of keeping secrets, it boils up like a kettle and suddenly everything crumbles, cookie wise. Baxter realises that his method of making himself more noticed has cost him true love, but cookies are sweet so the film wraps up in a nice bow.

It’s interesting to see how almost all men except the doctor next door are completely disrespectful to women, while Baxter is respectful and this is portrayed as a unique characteristic that gets him the girl, as he should. Huh, how times have changed, well that’s actually quite questionable. Anyway, it has a script that must’ve been studied in screenwriting classes everywhere. It’s filled with clever cues and clues, including the broken mirror and the secretary noticing Fran and Sheldrake leaving the restaurant to name a few with witty and memorable dialogue too.

I assume almost everyone has seen The Apartment, but it’s an easy and fun watch for anyone. Be a mensch and watch it. Despite tackling serious themes, The Apartment is ultimately a warm hug with classic Hollywood flavour and a great romance to make your heart smile.

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