review for A Chorus Line on AllMovie

A Chorus Line (1985)
by Perry Seibert review

A Chorus Line is a musical about very driven people. The characters expose their deepest hurts and fears in an attempt to earn a spot in the background of a stage production. For the movie adaptation, each of the dancer's stories is uniformly interesting, and the performers are engaging. The unifying story line concerning the director's relationship with one of the dancers imposes enough of a structure that the film doesn't feel like just a collection of performances. But, for some reason, the film does not add up to the sum of its parts. The problem may be in the medium. Each of the people auditioning for the director is loaded with talent and drive. To see them in the flesh in a stage performance is to see them the way the character of the director does. There is an immediacy to an audience's relationship with a performer in a play that is unattainable in film. The power of the play A Chorus Line is in the naked need of its performers. The film version, though full of entertaining numbers, never quite makes you feel that this is a life or death situation for any of the characters. Instead of allowing the audience to get a closer look at the characters, the camera adds distance, putting a damper on the energy required to make any production of this story a resounding success.