Save The Last Dance

Save The Last Dance

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Save The Last Dance

What is so striking about the DVD extras is the intelligence. I know that sounds stupid, because a DVD extra is a thing, not a person, but whoever put this together has thought about it and rather than go with a flash teenage style, with quick cut vibey stuff to keep the 15-year-old's awake, they take it seriously.

The director Thomas Carter is thoughtful, discreet, passionate and appreciative. He's also black, which should not be an issue, but since the movie is about culture clashes, it is relevant. He tells us that he was brought up in a small town in Texas, where "I lived my life through television."

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The commentary is one of the best, because Carter isn't trying to score points. He talks about the romance of trains, being a teenager and having those feelings so raw and unformed and real, the atmosphere of Chicago and honesty. He comes back to that many times. The honesty of the work. Julia Stiles impressed him as a serious-minded person, who worked incredibly hard to perfect her dancing, particularly the ballet. Sean Patrick Thomas was chosen for his acting. He needed an intense course of hip hop from one of the technicians. Carter called Kerry Washington, who played Thomas's sister in the movie, "the real find." Her attitude and personality and the way she cared for the baby twins that were used was so positive. Fredro Starr (Malakai), who came from New York and looks not unlike Tupac Shakur, was "the most popular actor on the street."

When Carter says, "I do believe in the power of the individual" and "A good story well told is what you're after", it doesn't sound insincere, or cliched. "The strength of the movie is in the performances," he adds. "These young actors gave me so much. I loved going to work every day." It reads like sick, I know, but after an hour and 20 minutes of listening to his feelings on all kinds of subjects from the rise and rise of rap to working 17 hours on the final scene in the club, when everyone comes out and dances, it's reassuring. Not everyone treats teen flicks as goofy mind-waste.

Deleted Scenes: these are quite long and obviously painful to lose. Carter says in the commentary that at the first edit, the movie was 3hrs 20mins. A lot had to go, especially from the sub plot concerning Kerry Washington's character and the father of her child (Garland Whitt). Of the four Deleted Scenes, two are with Kerry and Garland. Great scenes. The others are with Julia, one when she goes to the jazz club to hear her dad play and another in a record store where she meets up with Sean by chance. Both add something to your understanding of their relationships.

The Making Of...: includes cast and crew interviews. This is where intelligence shines. The young actors talk so well about the movie. At one moment, Sean is speaking about the sequence in the loft when Derek shows Sara how to walk like a cool black dude and how to sit in a chair and all that, most of which is used in the film and even in the trailer. "We were just winging it," he says. "I was teaching her how to chill. I never expected any of it to be in the movie."

Music Video: Crazy by K-Ci and JoJo isn't part of the film, although uses some incidents from it as backdrop to the song. It's great.

Trailer: yes!! Great, too.

Reviewed on: 22 Nov 2001
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Save The Last Dance packshot
Romance - and dance - across the racial divide.
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Product Code: PHE 8101

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Commentary by director Thomas Carter, Deleted Scenes, Making Of featurette, Interviews, Music Video, Trailer

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