Shall We Dance

Shall We Dance


Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

A quick glance at the title and cast list and you'd be forgiven for thinking this might be a cross between Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman, but Shall We Dance is unlikely to achieve the faithful following those films have acquired. Its most notable contrast is the utter lack of raunch factor. As a self-declared "old fashioned movie", it makes Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze's antics look positively pornographic.

This tame comedy/drama centres on John Clark (Richard Gere), a middle-aged lawyer, who's feeling something missing from his otherwise ideal life. He has job security, a big house, happy wife and kids, but still... there's a gap.

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On the L train (ER addicts will recognise the setting as Chicago, home of said train), returning from work one night, he looks up and catches the glimpse of a dance school with its tacky, yet strangely alluring, neon sign. At the window is a beautiful, forlorn-looking woman, gazing out into the night. A couple more sightings the following evenings and he's hooked, so much so that he gets off the train at the nearest stop and signs up for ballroom dance classes.

The melancholy lady is Paulina, a professional dancer who is still mourning a disastrous competition in Blackpool, at which she lost both the title and her partner-slash-lover. She's played by the gloriously miscast Jennifer Lopez, whose tragic heroine routine is sadly not as convincing as her dancing.

To return to the plot: whilst John's secretly cavorting at Miss Mitzi's School of Dance and getting more infatuated with the stoical Paulina by the minute, wife Beverly (Susan Sarandon) is getting suspicious and hires a private detective to tail him.

Needless to say, all three members of this love triangle are to embark on a journey of self-discovery, learning to realise their potential and making new stereotypical friends along the way.

The film's tameness is undoubtedly its downfall. Its ideal of a gentle, feelgood romance is laudable, but the combination of trite performances (from Gere, who looks like he trained at the Hugh Grant School of Awkward Yet Adorable, and most of his comedy sidekicks at Miss Mitzi's), feeble humour and over-reliance on the dance sequences' wow factor make for a poor execution.

Like it's leading man, Shall We Dance is sweet, but misguided.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2005
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A family man in a mid-life crisis spices up his life by secretly learning ballroom dancing.
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Director: Peter Chelsom

Writer: Audrey Wells, based on the screenplay by Masayuki Suo

Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Lisa Ann Walter, Stanley Tucci, Anita Gillette, Bobby Cannavale, Omar Miller, Richard Jenkins

Year: 2004

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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