Tuesday, August 31

Review: The Apartment

Bear with me here.

The Apartment is a romantic comedy made in 1960 and shot in black and white. I know that a lot of people who watch movies as entertainment would find this enough reason too dismiss a movie as old and boring. Please, please don't. I say this as both a (wannabe) film critic and someone who just plain loves movies: The Apartment is great. 

When the movie starts we see an office building from the inside. There is a seemingly endless row of desks, behind which the John Does of the world make their living. We then zoom in to perhaps the least significant of them: C.C. Baxter (played wonderfully minimal by Jack Lemmon). He is one of those sad, lonely guys who comes home from work every day and finds his apartment empty. But Baxter has pulled an even shorter straw. His apartment is used by his superiors as their personal fuckshack, and he can wait outside until they are finished with their bimbo du jour. And to make things even worse: the lift lady whom he is secretly in love with, mrs. Kubelik, has an affair with his (married) boss. Who then asks Baxter if he can use his apartment to have sex with Kubelik.

Not that I blame him for wanting too.

Most people would draw the line just about there. Not Baxter. He is a wonderfully strange man: shy and spineless, but also selfless and caring. He just keeps on going, completely keeping his own desires and needs out of the equation. I won't spoil too much of the plot, but rest assured that this attitude will give him a world of trouble.

The Apartement
is a romantic movie that contains very little on-screen romance. It is a comedy in which enough drama occurs to fill a decent soap-opera season. And it's a christmas movie that doesn't even have a single ho-ho-ho. Normally, this would make a rom-com depressing and sluggish. It is a testament to Billy Wilder's (who wrote and directed the movie) skill that he managed to make these things work in his advantage. Keeping the romance virtually out of his movie (there isn't even a kiss-off) he manages to keep the story engaging and interesting throughout. Oh sure, we know what the outcome will be, but how in the world Baxter and Kubelik are ever going to overcome all their problems and get together keeps us guessing. The drama might hit some very dark tones (even by contemporary merits), but it makes you genuinely and deeply care about the characters. And leaving out the whole christmas bit... well, it doesn't exactly take a genius to see how that would improve the movie.

Seriously, F*** this Movie

The Apartment is one of the funniest, most endearing and best-written comedies I have seen in a long time. An absolute recommendation for just about everyone.


P.S. The movie also has some great pacing, so you don't have to fear Once-Upon-a-Time-in-the-West-esque slow-burning drama. This movie goes as fast as any movie nowadays, which only improves it.

This song might be a bit of a standard today, but it is just as everlastingly delightful as the movie.

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