Fosse/Verdon, a tribute, a little too wise to two geniuses of the musical

Fosse/Verdon, un hommage un peu trop sage à deux génies de la comédie musicale

Broadcast on Canal + Series, the new series of prestige FX resurrects the star couple of the Broadway.

By far, the title Fosse/Verdon referred to a hypothetical second season of Feud, the anthology of Ryan Murphy dedicated to the great rivalries of the pop culture, two years after a first salvo of episodes (Bette and Joanputting in scene the war of nerves contest between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of whatever happened to Baby Jane ? But although the string is the same (FX), and the ambition aesthetic close enough (resurrecting the Hollywood of the 60s and 70s in all of his glamour and his madness decadent), nothing to do with the work of Murphy. There is a little bit of vertigo: a theoretical and irony ” camp “, and a lot more love than hate, in Fosse/Verdon, auscultation of the professional relationship and love between Bob Fosse (choreographer and star of the 50s and 60s and then director dementia of the 70’s) and the dancer Gwen Verdon, and of their meeting during the rehearsals of the show Damn Yankees ! in 1955 at the death of the Pit, in 1987. Between these two dates : a marriage, a daughter (Nicole Fosse, which has served as a consultant to the series), a separation, a considerable number of mistresses to Pit, and a few hits the stage the legendary duo, including Chicago, in 1975. The couple ceased to live together in the early 70’s, but never divorced ever before and continued to work and to love – Gwen was there when Bob died of a heart attack. Fosse/Verdon has been designed by the team of the musical triumphant Hamilton, and it is necessary to consider it as a tribute to the great man (and great woman, unjustly forgotten), a reverence of the new generation of stars from Broadway to the previous one. This is the gospel according to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his friends.

The creation, inspiration, doubts, flashes of genius, the impulses of suicide, drug use, sexual obsession, the scenes of the household… The program is very attractive, but we wonder, however, very quickly, before the first episode, which is exactly the series. What is the reputation of Bob Fosse today ? In 1973, the man decorated his chimney with three Emmy Awards, an Oscar and two Tonys, all harvested in the space of a few months. He was at the top of the world. His star has since faded, and today, above all, he is adulated by mémorialistes theatre in new york, rats cinémathèque blocked on the New Hollywood and some fans lit of Michael Jackson, who know that their idol owes him a lot. But the sixties are apparently back in style (thank you Tarantino), and the musical is in full revival, of the The Land to A Star is Born, through the upcoming Rocketman, an evocation of life in beat-up of Elton John’s under the influence, All that jazz (signed Fosse, 79). Fosse/Verdon therefore tries to apply as much to neophytes as to connoisseurs of the work. A balance that seems logical on paper but is quite difficult to find on the screen. Especially when it decides, a little unconsciously, to reproduce identical sequences of a film as iconic as Cabaret – how can we hope to recover the power of the performance anthological of Liza Minnelli ? Mission impossible for the actress Kelli Barrett. Same problem for the form given to the story : a biopic to be diffracted, fragmented, kaleidoscopic, jumping from one era to another, and organizing the narrative as a countdown to the fatal outcome (the death of the hero). This is the form that the Pit itself had developed in Lenny, matrix of all the biopics modern, and then applied it to his own life in All that jazz, a sort of auto-biopic in which the mannerisms of staging are sometimes taken here to be identical, pushing the viewer to the comparison, necessarily disadvantageous to the series.

Trip morbid
These reservations aside, you can bet that lovers of Pit also do not have all read the biography of Sam Wasson, who has served as the main documentary source for the series. This is the best way to enjoy the show : watch it as we would devour a bio “the american way” – that is to say, very informed, detailed, nourished by first-hand accounts, full of empathy but also of anecdotes, sordid or smutty. The featured couple, him, supports the building with panache. If it is a shame that Sam Rockwell doesn’t dance enough (yet it is his thing, he can not help but jiggle in his films), Michelle Williams impresses frankly in the role of ungrateful and a bit agreed of the muse, forsaken, suffering in silence, but saving consistently put her husband in critical times. A performance that is highly entertaining, in a setting very pleasant to look at. Nice ? A funny word to be used in connection with the work Pit, this long trip morbid that said, against a whole tradition of hollywood, the show does not serve to stave off death, but to convene the meeting.

Fosse/Verdon, the Sunday on Canal + Series (critical based on the first five episodes)

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