Shall We Dance? Peter Chelsom

Shall We Dance?Peter Chelsom
Japanese films at the moment are like a gazelle waiting for a lion (aka, an American remake) to strike. Like Ringu and Ju-On, Shall We Dansu was also victimised by Hollywood's power, as well as Richard Gere's undying charisma and J.Lo's behind. That said, Shall We Dance?, like the other remakes, isn't as strong as the original, but isn't a complete failure either. (Though The Ring and The Grudge are much better remakes.) Obviously the impressive star power ensures success at the box office, but somehow the little story behind the big names unravels nicely to bring even a little joy to the harshest pessimist. Gere stars as John Clark, a successful real estate lawyer who falls out of happiness and one day turns to ballroom dancing to up his spirits. Lopez, of course, is his muse: a once great dancer haunted by the rejection of her former lover/dancer. While the midlife crisis routine is beyond cliché, it's John's interest in dancing that gives the film its charm. Instead of buying a red convertible or nailing his secretary, he not only sticks with his wife (a much older looking Susan Sarandon), but reverts to something risk-free and even graceful. It's a little shocking that Chelsom didn't build more on the relationship between Gere and Lopez, as a romance is almost expected; kudos to him for that. However, he fails to develop any character other than Gere's, giving Lopez and Sarandon very hollow roles to fill, and all at a lightning quick pace. The DVD extras are well-designed though. "Beginner's Ballroom" is a fascinating history of the dance, along with instructional lessons courtesy of the cast and expert choreographers who worked on the film. "Behind The Scenes" talks with the cast about making the film and reveals just how disciplined Gere is as a dancer, while "The Music" looks at the different types of music involved in the film: the score, the contemporary soundtrack (Mya, Ja Rule) and the dance music. The deleted scenes are hit and miss, giving us an alternate opening that makes little sense at all, a dance sequence featuring Mya's undervalued character and a scene of Lopez instructing children to dance, which does reveal more of her disposition, but still not enough to save her futile character. Plus: music video, commentary. (Alliance Atlantis)