I can't believe all the negative reviews I am reading for this film, but then again, I haven't seen the stage version, so I can't compare. The film adaptation of "A Chorus Line" is the quintessential backstage musical, a celebration of the lives and tribulations of the dancers who turn up by the hundreds to audition for a handful of jobs on Broadway.
The simple story goes like this: A choreographer is casting eight dancers for a new musical, and during one long and truthful day he auditions hundreds of dancers before he makes his final selection. The remaining dozen pour out their hearts and souls through song and dance, all desperate for a part, and all deserving of one. We learn about their lives, loves, fears, and sacrifices through the brilliant lyrics.
From what I understand, Richard Attenborough's film treatment of the story sticks to the outlines of the stage version, although he takes the liberty to fill in the details of the choreographer's old romance, and he leaves out some of the original songs to make room for new ones. I think it's a wonderful idea, and hey, for me, it works.
The result may not please purists who want a film record of what they saw on stage, but this is one of the most intelligent and compelling movie musicals in a long time. Everybody, at one time or another, has been on a line similar to this one--anxious to be accepted and terrified of being rejected by someone judging his or her worth.
Attenborough (Gandhi) makes the most of this dramatic tension, along with the hopefulness of all those in the audition. Best of all, he captures the vibrancy of modern dance from the free-form confusion of the opening scenes to the high-stepping kicks of the finale.
This is truly one of the most underrated films EVER, an emotional, powerful, and anxious musical definitely worth seeing. Give it a chance, it won't hurt!