Reuben’s review published on Letterboxd:
The ultimate feel-good film. A joyous ode to the early days of cinema. A self-aware commentary on the mechanical nature of studio productions. The quintessential movie for lovers of movies.
Singin' in the Rain feels like a showcase for the potential of the musical genre as a whole. Both timeless and relevant, its themes still resonate today, with an extra pinch of nostalgia added into the mix with each passing year. This is a recipe that has since been adapted time and time again but nothing quite lives up to the magic captured here. Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor all deliver showstopping performances. The sheer physicality and talent required for each musical number genuinely blew my mind. An array of hops, flips and jumps interwoven between frenetic tap dancing, usually all in one unbroken take. Donen knows exactly how to get the best out of the cast; the camera flows with each actor's movements, zooming in to focus on the intricacies of a dance or zooming out to create a sense of scale and wonder. It all feels so natural.
The focus of the story is on the transition between silent film and talking pictures. The race between major studios to quickly churn out this new form of cinema was kickstarted by the smash box office hit The Jazz Singer. What followed was a sudden spike in imagination and creativity. The potential of cinema had moved from the ceiling to the stratosphere. Singin' in the Rain captures this overwhelming sense of possibility and then makes a case for the very solution our protagonists decide to go with: a musical. Along with this new revelation came its own set of problems though. Both the challenges that actors making the transition face and the new technological hurdles to overcome for the use of sound are on full display, making for some hilarious sequences. The trial and error nature of production, constant bouncing of ideas between the crew, and the unabashed love for the medium are enough to make anyone want to jump in and make a movie themselves. That's what cinema is all about.
This took me a surprisingly long time to finally watch, especially considering my love for La La Land - a film heavily influenced by Singin' in the Rain. The wait was well worth it though. This was one of my favourite experiences watching a film and just like La La Land, it left me with an overwhelming love for the medium as a whole.