SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977)
Some films are just great cultural capsules of a time and place you’d never see or have access too. This is one of those. The disco subculture mixed with the Brooklyn subculture provides entertainment value in and of itself.
Wasn’t really sure what to expect before watching it, but was very pleasantly surprised. Travolta was tremendously charismatic (reminds me of Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights) and had the bright eyes and confidence of a young star on the rise. He also had some great lines.
The overall arc of the story was what most stuck out to me – tonally starting as carefree coming of age tale but progressively became more nuanced. It raised a lot of questions about passion versus money, what being young and in love can feel like, how confusing it is to find your path in the world and find a lover, and that every person is out for their own success.
It well captures the very poignant transition from your first social circle to where you decide you’ve either grown apart or what something else.
Similar to the way SWINGERS captures the post break up “moment”, SNF captures the moment when you realize it’s time to grow up and make some hard choices: separate from the people you grew up with and follow your own path.
The other male characters seem to provide the classic “alternate realities” for Tony. His brother who followed a passion then became disillusioned, the other paint store clerks who’ve been there for years, his dad with a family but out of work, or his dead beat friends who get girls pregnant, die, or get beat up. He could even open a dance studio and be a womanizer.
At the end you get the sense that he’ll aspire for bigger things and try to break himself out of the simple uneducated life, following in Stephanie’s footsteps. As much as a facade as it is, she really embraces the fake-it-until-you-make-it approach. Perhaps highlighting that this is necessary to get out of the trap of low expectations. The only way to improve your life from a bad upbringing is to fake like you belong at the higher social class.
And of course the music and dancing was all classic.