Musical; Romantic Comedy; Coming-of-Age Story; Period Piece
Gigi is the sum of its parts, which happen to include people bursting into song without warning, a fractured fairy tale of a romantic comedy, and a fairly traditional ugly duckling story, all set against an overly elaborate Belle Époque backdrop.
When Gigi was released, MGM had been making musicals for a couple decades, each more popular than the last. But Gigi was their musical swan song. The Cold War, with its paranoia and anxiety, took the fun out of lighthearted musicals. People had other things on their mind. Gigi was a stunning final act.
For sure, Gigi is a typical rom-com heroine. She's clumsy in a charming (not dangerous) way, dropping her schoolbooks and being generally adorable and exuberant. She speaks her mind, changes her mind, and wears all manner of pretty clothes. Meanwhile, Gaston fits the bill as a rom-com hunk. He's rich, handsome, and doesn't realize he's in love with Gigi. Together they fight and dance and make jokes at one another's expense, all while having the best time ever. It was a meet-cute if we ever saw one—that is, meet-cute-baby, since Gaston's known Gigi since she was a young child.
Gigi's coming of age is the storyline, and Gaston does us the huge time-saving favor of recapitulating her entire life in just under six minutes during his title song, as shots of Gigi float by. Conclusion: she was a baby, then a tot, then a child, then an adolescent, then an entrancing adolescent. The film ends with Gigi completely bloomed but keeping her youthful exuberance.