Shall We Dance

Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci

Director: Peter Chelsom

There comes a time in some people’s lives when they stop to take a closer look at their existence, only to realise that even though they have achieved so much there is still a feeling of emptiness that all their achievements have failed to fulfil them, so they ask themselves what can I do to patch up this hole?

It is at this stage in his life that we meet John Clark (Richard Gere) and he literally has it all – great job, wife, loving daughter and son. On yet another uneventful day after work on his daily trip home he catches a glimpse of a sign advertising a dancing school and he also notices a beautiful face staring out of one of the school’s windows. John finds himself captivated by this face and everyday after work he eagerly looks out for it, until one day he decides to take fate into his own hands and physically goes to the school to get a closer look.

He is enrolled for a dance class given by Paulina (Jennifer Lopez), the very woman whose face has captivated him and turns out is actually an instructor at the school. As the lessons progress, John finally gets his chance to ask Paulina out for a meal but her response forces him to question a lot of aspects of his life leading him to seek the complete happiness that has so far eluded him in the last place that he would have thought of finding it.

Peter Chelsom fresh from directing SERENDIPITY starring John Cusack tackles this remake of a Japanese film that was a big success in Japan. The whole tale hinges on making the audience agree with the central character’s feeling of emptiness even though he has it all. While some people over a certain age may feel this to be true, for a younger audience this might be a bit hard to swallow. Still Peter Chelsom manages to pull off the light comedy and drama involved in the story although this is mainly down to some clever casting choices to relieve the otherwise very basic storyline.

Richard Gere more than adequately conveys the thoughts of a man who wants to feel more than he already does, not an Oscar worthy performance but definitely audience worthy. Jennifer Lopez doesn’t have many lines in this movie but still she manages to evoke empathy for her character as someone who has literally lost hope in life and is then transformed by watching Richard Gere’s character strive to recapture the very passion for life that she has lost, through dance. Supporting acts from Stanley Tucci as an incognito Latino dancing machine, Susan Sarandon as the suspicious wife Beverly Clark and Richard Jenkins as a detective specialising in snooping on naughty spouses with Nick Canon as his well spoken assistant are all very well done and equally funny and dramatic.

Overall this movie is a straight forward crowd pleasing popcorn movie that will probably do better with older audiences than the younger ones.

3 out of 6 stars

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