Follies in Concert (1985)

Genres - Musical, Theater  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Follies in Concert is a beautiful frustration. A documentary focusing around the 1985 Lincoln Center concert version of Stephen Sondheim's stunningly glorious show, it fails in one very big way: it does not dig deep enough to work as a documentary about the making of this legendary concert and the live album that resulted from it, and because it truncates the actual performance severely, it does not work as a record of what actually transpired onstage either. The latter point is especially distressing, as a note-for-note video of the concert would have been of enormous value and interest to the legion of Sondheim fanatics. Because it fails in both these areas, Follies has to be considered a disappointment. And yet it is a disappointment with many fascinating moments, one that captures some performers and performances that send chills up and down the spine. Even though these are not necessarily caught in their full glory, witnessing Barbara Cook singing "In Buddy's Eyes," Elaine Stritch stopping the show with "Broadway Baby," Carol Burnett doing "I'm Still Here" and the entrance of the ladies during "Beautiful Girls" make this a must-have for any true devotee of the musical theatre. Its highpoints are so good that one can even forgive Mandy Patinkin's execrable, self-indulgent performance -- and that's saying something. Follies should have been an incomparable video experience, but we can be thankful that at its best it preserves incomparable moments.