Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature commentary with director.
Peter Chelsom. Beginner's Ballroom. Behind the scenes. The Music
of Shall We Dance. Pussycat Dolls 'Sway' music video. Deleted
scenes with optional commentary by Peter Chelsom.
GIVEN the success of TV show, Strictly Come Dancing, it's fair
to say that Shall We Dance stands a much better chance of waltzing
its way into viewers hearts than it did in America, where it attracted
a decidedly lukewarm response.
The film, from Peter Chelsom, is admittedly a remake of the far
superior Japanese movie of the same name (starring Koji Yakusyo
and Tamiyo Kusakari), but it's an amiable affair that makes the
most of a strong ensemble cast, despite some flat-footed performances.
Richard Gere provides the catalyst for the tale as Chicago lawyer,
John Clark, a man who has become bored with the old 9 to 5 routine
and 'trapped' in a safe marriage.
Desperate to find something more to life, he suddenly finds himself
captivated by a beautiful face in the window of a dance studio
and impulsively gets off the train to sign up for dance lessons.
The face in question belongs to Jennifer Lopez's heartbroken
dance instructor, Paulina, and she gradually draws Clark into
the world of ballroom dancing, providing him with an innocent
but much-needed outlet for his day-to-day frustrations.
But while Clark finds happiness in the tango-foxtrot, he feels
too ashamed to tell his wife (Susan Sarandon), who subsequently
begins to suspect he is having an affair and hires a private investigator
(Richard Jenkins) to prove it.
The ensuing comedy unfolds at a leisurely
pace and is considerably enlivened by some wonderful supporting
performances and Chelsom's wise decision not to give in to the
Hence, Gere and Lopez do not share a big-screen romance and Clark's
journey of self-discovery doesn't always follow the path you think
Of the support players, the ever-reliable Stanley Tucci positively
steals the show with his larger-than-life depiction of Clark's
co-worker, who shares a similar passion for dancing, while the
likes of Bobby Cannavale and Richard Jenkins make the most of
There are also some genuinely funny moments (witness Gere and
Tucci's toilet-based dance lesson), as well as the odd gesture
of feel-good romance.
Yet as enjoyable as the overall experience remains, there are
several things that threaten to ruin the dance.
Lopez, for instance, comes across as far too earnest for the
role and seems to be taking it far too seriously, while the far
better Sarandon is reduced to a relative bit-part player and feels
like a missed opportunity.
This is largely because the film offers too many sub-plots that
it simply doesn't have time to explore, thereby reducing the impact
of several support players.
What's more, the overblown finale is far too 'Hollywood', clearly
going for An Officer and a Gentleman-style denouement that plays
on Gere's past work, rather than anything subtle like the original.
So while such tactics will doubtless have the romantics swooning,
the sceptics may find themselves reaching for the sick bag.
That said, Shall We Dance possesses enough charm about it to
side-step the majority of its failings, emerging as a suitably
cute date movie for those who seek nothing more than a little