Shall We Dance

"Weak"

Shall We Dance Review


A warmhearted semi-romance of self-discovery, "Shall We Dance" opens so promisingly that it's a big disappointment when the picture suffers crucial missteps that throw off its entire rhythm.

Richard Gere stars as a melancholy Chicago probate lawyer whose prosaic life (established in an uncommonly affecting voice-over and a perfectly pitched montage of daily routine) gets a secret, seductive pick-me-up when he discovers a passion for ballroom dancing. Riding home on the elevated train day after day, he becomes drawn to a possible kindred spirit, a beautiful stranger (Jennifer Lopez) who seems to be forever staring sadly out a dance-studio window. One day his intuition gets the better of him. He signs up for a dance class to be near her.

As Gere's ennui is only tenuously related to his marriage (to Susan Sarandon), the film does not go the obvious direction with this attraction. But director Peter Chelsom ("Serendipity") and screenwriter Audrey Wells ("Under the Tuscan Sun") find other ways to turn this remake of a mediocre 1997 Japanese film about cultural repression into a wholly Hollywood affair.

Gere lends charm and subtle insightfulness to his role as a modest man too self-possessed to follow temptation into a full-on midlife crisis, and his psychological journey rings with a genuinely poignant harmony that serves as the movie's beat. The film is rich with endearing touches of character detail, be they from Gere (at home he opens the door on his daughter's slumber party just to get a little amusement out of the girls' screams) or from the supporting cast of colorful, well-drawn eccentrics (Lisa Ann Walter is an winningly loud-mouthed dance instructor, Stanley Tucci is fellow lawyer shamed by his secret life as a "straight man who dances around in sequins").

But sometimes the movie seems to have two left feet.

Lopez overplays the defensive, broken-hearted blues of her trust-weary professional dancer who has become an instructor after being dumped by a lover and dance partner. In the process, she loses the magnetism necessary to justify Gere's profound interest in her -- especially since his admiration remains mostly undeclared and from a distance.

Despite starring two talented dancers, the ballroom and studio scenes are a problem as well. Impatiently edited, they suffer death by a thousand cuts, never letting the graceful routines -- developed by the dancers and students in preparation for a climactic ballroom-dance competition -- speak for themselves. Instead Chelsom relies on exposition from observers to tell us that the tangos, foxtrots, waltzes and rumbas are "well done!" and "spectacular!"

Before long, other weak and improbable contrivances take over the story, leading to a finale that is the personification of feel-good over-scripted overkill. One character is even cured of alcoholism by the magic of dancing.

Had "Shall We Dance" delivered on the promise of its well-crafted early scenes, had it not been saddled with Jennifer Lopez, and had it stuck to its understated idiosyncrasies (Sarandon finds ironic bits of humor in the wife's increasing paranoia about her husband's late nights), the film could have won both hearts and minds. But instead it aims for far too many broad laughs amidst its resonant (if repressed) emotion, and the finished product becomes just chick flick fluff with a grown-up bent.



Shall We Dance

Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th October 2004

Box Office USA: $57.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $170.1M

Budget: $50M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 70 Rotten: 82

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as John Clark, as Paulina, as Beverly Clark, as Bobbie, as Link, as Miss Mitzi, as Chic, as Vern, as Jenna Clark, as Evan Clark, as Devine, as Scott, Sarah Lafleur as Carolyn, Onalee Ames as Diane, Diana Salvatore as Tina, Daphne Korol as Daphne, David Sparrow as Louis

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

Advertisement
The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite...

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.