Words: Giulia Lombardo
‘The Prom’ is an original Netflix film under the full direction of Ryan Murphy (director of ‘Glee’, ‘American Horror Story’, ‘Ratched’ and ‘Hollywood’): based on the musical of the same name created by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin – who also edited the script of the film – it tells the story of Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden), two Broadway stars in decline. To rise from their tragic situation, in an attempt to shine again as icons and celebrities, they decide to help a high school girl in difficulty. Her name is Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman), a gay girl who faces a huge injustice from the PTA at her public school in Indiana.
She is forbidden to attend the prom together with her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana Debose), and this unexpected act of cruelty will give her strength to counter the student body and a retrograde and unjust reality. Improbable misunderstood stars and boys will have the opportunity to assert their rights, in a musical with a frantic rhythm and with a cast of lure.
With ‘The Prom’ we do not dwell on the presentation of the characters, their past and the bond that holds together all these reckless personalities on screen; Ryan Murphy feeds a roaring engine, with an inexhaustible charge that has all the intention of moving every aspect in everyday life. Once introduced to the magical world of Broadway, you unlock an almost endless series of songs that devour the camera. Each component of the cast must compete with the barrier of criticism, baseless judgments and the sinister bullying; threat is seen as a disturbing element to be eradicated with music and the most unbridled dance. Emma feels surrounded by bigotry and superficial observations regarding her sexual orientation, and through singing she bursts into a dimension that takes her and the audience on fantastic contours.
We embark on the journey ‘The Prom’ takes us on with the knowledge of being overwhelm ed by a considerable number of original songs. The tracklist is really vast, and within it we find small outlets or real posters to support integration and diversity. In the overall framework of the narrative structure, one cannot access the intimate sphere of all the great stars that populate the universe born by Murphy. The film’s reach extends beyond the confines of Emma’s school, a prison to be demolished to let in all forms of entertainment and the freedom that comes with it; in this way, even Dee Dee and Barry – along with colleagues Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and Trent Olivier (Andrew Rannels) – may express an initial sense of inadequacy on the way to a radical transformation.
Including tracks such as ‘Just Breathe’, ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ and ‘Wear Your Crown’, the songs range from the most frivolous themes to strong ones that make us reflect, and each character has the opportunity to perform both individually and in a group. The result is a very large number of songs, some more successful – such as ‘Unruly Heart’, the ironic and bubbly ‘It’s Not About Me’ or ‘The Lady’s Improving’ – others weaker.
‘The Prom’ is not only exciting, powerful and fun, but it’s a love anthem to the theatre. This is seen not only in the characters of the flat-out artists (very funny and unforgettable), but also in the songs; for instance, in ‘We Look to You’ which is what every artist would like to hear from a fan, beautiful composition that expresses in an excellent way the power of the theatre.
‘The Prom’ is memorable, however with a catchy and pleasant soundtrack but easily forgettable. Murphy stages an harmonic film that runs from beginning to end, between dances and colourful, gaudy choreographies. The story touches on important issues and also stages the hypocrisy inherent in those who criticize the LGBT world, while disregarding many principles of the Bible to which he says so much to believe. Interesting, in this regard, the fun and catchy ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ is a real anthem to respect and love others. After all, the message of the film is precisely this: to help others not for glory but without receiving.