First off, this is not a film review. If it were, I’d write about the performances, production design, music and all all the other factors that make or break a movie. Also, I’ve met the director and co-screenwriter, Joel Schumacher, who is every bit as nice as his reputation. So I don’t want it to be weird next time I say hello to him at some event. Rather, I just want to point out some story issues that stuck out to me — things I’d want to tackle if I’d gotten the script before it went into production.
I saw Phantom of the Opera last night. This was my first exposure to it — I never saw the stage musical, nor read the book. I can say I’m glad I saw it. There were things that really worked, and things that didn’t. What was interesting, and frustrating, is that a lot of the film’s biggest issues were on the page.
Be advised that everything from this point forward is full of spoilers.
Phantom is essentially a love triangle. You have Christine, the gifted chorus girl. Raoul, the unaccountably hot viscount. And The Phantom, a deformed genius who lurks around the Paris opera house where the story is set.
Christine is an orphan, natch, who was raised by Madame Giry in the opera dormitory. Before he died, Christine’s father promised an Angel of Music would watch over her. And in fact, that’s what the Phantom has been doing. He’s the voice in the darkness who’s been giving her singing lessons. So far, it feels like Beauty and the Beast.
Here’s where the movie gets into some very un-Disney territory. The Phantom has been essentially a surrogate father to this girl, and in fact pretends to be the spirit of her father at times — and yet he wants to marry her and, well, ravage her. Don’t get me wrong: I love that it’s kind of sick and twisted. But the movie never really does anything with this idea. No one calls him on it, or points out that Madame Giry has essentially been pimping out Christine to an evil lech who lives in the sewers.