Sunday, January 23, 2005

Returning to my critique of Shall We Dance, the movie didn't translate well from the Japanese original. The original worked because of Japanese culture. The Japanese are not a physical people. It's almost taboo for there to be body contact between a man and a woman who is not his wife. In the American version, this obviously couldn't be the case. Instead, the director chose to make the taboo that of a man who, despite living the American dream (a loving wife, a car, a house, a good job, 2.5 kids), yearns for more. While I understand that, seeing as I am guilty of that particular taboo, it doesn't make for a great movie.

The acting, as mentioned earlier, was mediocre at best. Richard Gere was John Clark, a shy (yeah, right, give me a break) lawyer in his 40s who discovers the joy of ballroom dancing. Susan Sarandon is disappointing as Beverly, John's wife, though she does have some bright moments such as her monologue on why people get married (see below). Jennifer Lopez plays Paulina, a beautiful dance teacher at the dance studio who first catches John's eye. Her acting was okay, though in the first few scenes, she seemed to believe looking sad and wistful meant a teary-eyed gaze and heaving bosom. Stanley Tucci, as always, was magnificent as the nerdy lawyer who becomes a crazy Latin dance lounge lizard on the dance floor. In fact, the movie's worth catching just to see him dance. Comedy in dance usually isn't done well but Tucci is hilarious.

The quality of the dancing is good. You can tell everyone's having fun, but then, as a die-hard dancer, I'm biased. The soundtrack is nice too. One song which stands out during the show is Gotan Project's Santa Maria, which is a fantastic Argentinean tango piece, and also appears on their album, La Revancha del Tango. The Pussycat Dolls' cover of Sway is great as well. It's incredibly sensuous.

Memorable Quotes:
Beverly: We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'.

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