Film reviews

Shall We Dance?, Dir; Peter Chelsam, Cert; 12A

"Shall We Dance?", an invitation that has become increasingly popular ever since Aled Jones, Denise Lewis and Quentin Wilson stepped the 'light fantastic' in a series of 'Saturday Night Prime Time' moments on BBC1's "Strictly Come Dancing'. Well in our arrogance we thought it was just ourselves, but nine years ago this film started out as 'Dansu Wo Shimasho Ka' the japanese incarnation and it would seem the start of the whole craze that encouraged British Audiences to part with their cash in the phone votes they cast for 'Strictly Come Dancing', all this in aid of Children In Need. The original working of this film raised 13 Japanese Academy Awards and later proceeded to travel the globe becoming a hit with foreign film audiences throughout the US and Europe. This remake was brought to english speaking audiences by screen writer Audrey Wells and director Peter Chelsom and a cast that will speak for themselves.

Well on first glance this film might appear a horrid mess of 'rom-com', timed here to coincide with the purpose built romantic season. Too much 'new-man' moments offered up by John (Richard Gere) who might wipe the floor with most of us and dripping sex appeal offered up by Ms. Lopez and an arse in a tight skirt that might send any red-blooded male to bed with sweet dreams. However far from having to grit my teeth and bear unwillingly over an hour and a half of screen torture, I was in fact won over by a comedy that hit all the right notes (and notes that were in tune I might say).

We set out by observing John Clark, a man who appears to be leading a mundane, albeit successful existence catch sight of the run down dance school; 'Miss Mitzy's' while traveling home on the train. Whilst doing so he catches sight of a wistful young girl (Jennifer Lopez) in an upper window.
This is a routine that is carried out for several nights before he overcomes his shyness and gets off the train to further his curiosity. He signs up as a beginner at the school (quite unwillingly at first) and commences on a journey that not only builds a team of unlikely's between the small group of novices, centering around the run down school, but also examines what is termed in the film's notes as "the search for American happiness", that in all honesty could well be afforded to much in our modern day society. In fact one line offered up by John (Gere) and Beverly Clarke, his screen wife (played by Susan Sarandon) was that John had started on this journey of exploration as he was "ashamed of wanting to be happier when we have so much.", but it is this, that might be seen as the curse of our material existence.

The film offers great dialogue, explores the male ego and portrays some fantastic dance floor moves, especially those that turned Richard Gere's character from an almost footstep tripping 'Quentin Wilson', into a light footed John O'Connell (the internationally acclaimed choreographer) that assisted in this role for the film. His many previous successes have also included 'Strictly Ballroom' and 'Moulin Rouge'. If it's laugh's you're after however, these are also are afforded their '15-minutes' in moments you're sure to take with you on leaving the screening. First and foremost this film will be a sure-fire hit as it's cast are superb in their roles, from the heavy-weight talent of Gere and Sarandon, to the new-blood of Lopez and Nick Cannon (playing Scotty, the private investigator's assistant). A star in his own right, from rap music released on Jive records and his collaboration with B2K, not to mention countless roles in film and comedy aside. All this is sure to allow this film a generous audience spread, that will all enjoy this celluloid moment of the season. 9/10


Nick James


Odeon Online

 

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