Flashdance (1983) Poster

(1983)

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A surprisingly charming film!
San Franciscan17 October 2002
So here's this movie "Flashdance" which has been staring me in the face for years, both in pop culture for over half of my life and on the video rental store shelves, and yet I've never gotten around to checking it out until now.

I was fifteen when this movie was first out and popular. I heard the soundtrack, of course, and loved it to pieces... but I had never been able to watch the movie because it was rated R.

I had grown up having it be, in an odd sort of way, both a part of my life and at the same time *not* a part of my life. I was familiar with its music, images, and even its basic plot outline, but had never seen the movie.

And as an adult, I felt extremely dubious about checking it out. Over the years, I had heard that people either loved it to pieces or hated it. I've heard critics both call it uplifting and fun while others called it nothing more than a string of glittering little music videos strung together on an extremely thin strand of plot (a creation device for a LOT of MTV-era movies such as "Top Gun", "Footloose" and "Purple Rain").

To add to my confusion about whether or not I should give it a try, I had had the same experience with "Saturday Night Fever": I grew up loving the soundtrack to pieces but having never seen the movie... and when I finally did I felt utter disappointment at first, discovering the film to be far darker than expected. Oh sure, I later liked "Fever" okay (actually, I should use the term "appreciated") but still preferred the gorgeous soundtrack to the actual film that was the basis for its existance.

Would I have the same experience with "Flashdance"?

Tonight, I finally decided to, as one character in the film puts it, "hold my breath and take the plunge".

As it turns out, I found it to be a surprisingly charming, entertaining and uplifting film. I was fearing it to be something raunchy, but at it turns out it has a very special, starry-eyed sweet innocence that is difficult to define.

The performance of the equally starry-eyed and innocent Jennifer Beals helps, of course. She brings a wide-eyed sparkle and hopefulness to her role, plus a determination to keep her life on the right track precisely as she feels it ought to go without any major morality screwups, and this adds a wonderful flavour of hope and childlike wonder to her character Alex that just simply grows on you.

Now, it IS true that there are a few flaws here and there, and a couple of editing flaws as well. Plus, the other characters aren't really as developed as hers (but they are developed just enough to demonstrate to her personally the various dos and don'ts regarding attitudes to have while pursuing a dream, voices for her to observe and learn from representing both directions). But none of that matters because the film has a charm all its own. Looking at it today, I can easily see why so many out there loved it: its a beautiful and very encouraging little film. It has a heroine whom anybody could relate with and like; it has wonderful music in it; it has a delicate and lighthearted touch to it which, language and a couple of scenes aside (such as the film's most heartbreaking scene in which Alex saves a desperate friend from throwing life away in a strip joint (a sequence which only lasts about two minutes long--but it's sad and disturbing, not "Oooh, let's put this in to grab male members of the audience!"--which is most likely the only ingredient to earn the film its R rating)), is nevertheless still so pure and true that it could have come straight out of a '70s-made Walt Disney Productions movie (!!!); it's touching and moving... and, of course, it has dance sequences which are fun to watch.

In other words, it was a comforting and uplifting movie released during a time when people, youngsters with career goals in particular, needed one. And if anything, folks still need movies like that out today. It's a happy little film with a happy ending which isn't overdone or unconvincing, and precisely the sort of flick which should be perscribed to those suffering severe depression. Heaven knows that I myself certainly felt encouraged about my own career and life in particular after watching it!

It might not be for everybody, but if the above description I've written voices the sort of movie you personally enjoy then do yourself a big favour and give it a try. Chances are that if you are as naturally starry-eyed and hopeful as Alex is--and believe me, *I* certainly am--then you will easily relate to this delightful little fable.
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Great movie from a guy's perspective
dek115828 July 2001
Flashdance is one of my Top Ten Films. I don't care that it has no twisting plot. I don't care that Jennifer Beals used a body double. I REALLY don't care that it's a chick flick. I love this movie!! Some people, after seeing Flashdance, choose to see a movie about exotic dancing. For one reason or another, I see a movie about chasing dreams, taking chances, and maximizing life.

Jennifer Beals' character Alex Owens's dream of attending a formal dance school and becoming a ballerina is the central theme of the film. Her friends Jeanie and Richie are aspiring figure skaters and stand-up comedians, respectively. However, Alex is the only dreamer receiving any encouragement. Her senior citizen friend Hannah, a former ballerina herself, gives Alex practical advice and unconditional faith. Jeanie's father openly criticizes Jeanie's dream as well as her beau, Richie. Richie, a cook at Mawby's Bar, is put down by his boss for wanting to go to Hollywood and being a comedian; "You're too short. They don't let short people into Hollywood."

The sub-plots facilitate Alex's dream to create a captivating story. To support herself (and possibly, to keep life interesting), Alex holds 2 jobs: a welder by day and a dancer at aforementioned Mawby's Bar during the night. Her welding boss Nick takes a liking to her and pursues her. Alex resists his charms but gives in eventually. Johnny C., the sleazy strip bar owner continually tries to lure Alex into dancing for him. As mentioned before, Alex's friends Jeanie and Richie have dreams of their own, and we see where their dreams take them.

The factor that made Flashdance a hit was the music, of course. "What a Feeling" took away an Oscar for Best Song. "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is", sung by Kim Carnes ("Bette Davis Eyes") fits Alex's personal-crisis scene perfectly.

The first time I watched Flashdance was 4 years ago; I bought the video knowing I'd like it. After 20+ viewings, I still love it. Flashdance is for anyone who has a dream but not the courage to pursue it.
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6/10
Lively Popular Entertainment
James Hitchcock14 January 2004
In recent years there have been a number of British films based on the theme of working-class people who find fulfilment through their cultural activities; examples being Educating Rita (the first and most distinguished), Brassed Off, The Full Monty and Billy Elliott. Such films are frequently described as `quintessentially British' or `something that we can do and Hollywood can't', whereas the truth is that twenty years ago Hollywood was indeed making very similar films, mostly centred upon dancing, such as Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing or Flashdance. Whereas these American films may not have had the covert (or, in the case of Brassed Off, highly overt) political message of their British counterparts, they nevertheless concentrated on differences in social class far more than Hollywood movies usually do.

The heroine of Flashdance, Alex, is a young woman who works as a welder and whose main joy in life is dancing. She moonlights as a dancer in a local nightclub, but her great ambition in life is to become a ballet dancer. The film tells the story of how she achieves that ambition, as well as the story of her romance with a wealthy middle-class divorcee, set against frequent dance sequences as Alex and her ice-skating friend Jeanie go through their paces. The climax comes with a scene in which she auditions for a place at a prestigious ballet academy and treats the judging committee to a bravura display of breakdancing. (Would a ballet school really be prepared to offer a place to a candidate whose dance skills owe more to the disco than to Swan Lake and who seems completely ignorant of balletic idiom?)

The film has its weak points. Although the plot is not as non-existent as some reviewers have felt, it nevertheless tends to take second place to the showpiece dance numbers; at times, it felt as if I were watching an extended series of pop videos. Potentially interesting themes are ignored; for example, Alex is a practising Catholic, but this seems to be a plot device to enable scenes set in the confessional to be used as soliloquies in which she can air her emotional problems. No attempt is made to explore the possible conflict between the demands of her religion and her sexually provocative dancing or her love for a divorcee.

The acting is undistinguished; Jennifer Beals makes an attractive and personable heroine, but it is clear why, despite the success of this film, she did not go on to become a major star. Her acting is too weak to enable her to carry a film; certainly I felt that she would be out of her depth in one that depends more upon plot and less upon song and dance. The other characters are little more than ciphers, with the exception of Hanna, the old lady who acts as Alex's mentor. I could certainly have done without the tasteless ethnic jokes told by Alex's comedian friend.

Yet, despite its faults, I enjoyed this film. Its redeeming feature is the zest and energy of its dance sequences, set to some well-chosen music such as Laura Branigan's Gloria or Irene Cara's title song. It may not be deep or significant, but it is an enjoyable, well-made piece of popular entertainment. 6/10.
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7/10
Amazing Soundtrack of 80's
Predrag4 May 2016
What makes a good film for me is that it is enjoyable, entertaining, gripping, likable and emotional. Flashdance without a doubt ticks all these five boxes. Flahdance is a very retro, cheesy entertaining film that is at no point boring and never drags, and is also a very clear symbol of the great 1980's and the night club exotic dancing scene of the time. Jennifer Beals puts down an amazing performance, as a dancer and as an actress. I guess the story comes down to the fact that reality bites, that life is tough, but if you push hard you just might make it.

All in all, Flashdance despite its few undeniable faults is a very decent and enjoyable film in my opinion. As it mostly meets all of my requirements I am happy to give it a positive review. This film is one of the quintessential 80's films, that works well as a symbolic artifact of its time. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves 80's.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
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10/10
A sparkly fun movie about accomplishment and striving
Harrington_Bob12 November 2002
No movie can sparkle if you don't! Dull serious people may not care for this movie of a lovely young woman driven to accomplish,despite hardships and heartbreak. But good music, good chemistry between the romantic co-stars, great dancing, an optimistic tone, make this a gem. "Rocky" with a dance motif and female star. Unless you're irretrievably burdened by life or just don't like good-looking women who achieve, you'll be cheered by this fine romantic flick.
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7/10
Flashdance clearly provides what many viewers want
L. Denis Brown3 November 2003
There are already many comments on this film in the IMDb database, and I had no intention of writing another until to my surprise I noticed that it was frequently being replayed on several different local TV channels. Flashdance is a very outdated movie that has never appealed to most film critics, so I felt this was sufficiently unusual to justify an attempted explanation.

Since the DVD of Flashdance was released, it has appeared for hire in many small local convenience stores and service stations that only maintain a very small rack of films for hire Clearly although it is now very much of a period movie, it continues to retain an enormous appeal for many of those who have seen it before. Personally I have watched our tape of Flashdance more often than most of the other tapes we have at home. This is not because it would be my first choice, but because it is a film that my wife loves to watch again and again; whilst I find I can view it repeatedly more readily than many of her other favorite tapes, so when we are discussing what to view and have rejected a number of other possibilities we tend to turn back to Flashdance. This reinforces the comments already made in your database about Flashdance being a "feel good" movie for which most people seem able to ignore the faults and just enjoy the music, the dancing and the romance. (It also features "Grunt", a very appealing dog, who remains one of the reasons why my wife is always ready to rewatch this film.) As a film Flashdance is therefore something of a paradox. Originally the final product was not very highly regarded by the studio and only received a limited release. This was severely panned by most of the critics, and not surprisingly the film initially received very little support from the public. The reviews and the low attendance led to plans to withdraw it from circulation early, but before these were implemented the audiences started to grow and continued to increase until cinemas showing the film were mostly packed out. Clearly those few who saw the film at an early showing started telling their friends to ignore the critics and see it. This escalated exponentially until the film finished up as a major hit. In commenting on this film it would be equally invalid to ignore the very real concerns of the critics or the equally real appeal it had, and still seems to have, for most of the public.

The story is trite - a female welder in a steelworks dreams of being a ballet dancer and practices her dancing in one of the local bars at night. Here she meets and starts to fall in love with her fairly young divorced boss. With his support she is able obtain an audition with a major dance company who are essentially only interested in her dance training, and lose any interest they may have had when she says she has never attended a dance school. However she proceeds to audition for the very bored selection committee and gives an electrifying free dance performance that in true fairy story tradition brings the committee to its feet. Some critics have complained that doubles replaced the star Jennifer Beals for this sequence, but this is surely not important - the real question is how effectively the film plays, and this sequence has rightly been very widely admired. About the time the film was released, modern dance companies were being formed alongside traditional ballet companies in many major cities in North America and this sequence certainly added to the appeal of the film at the time, but it is decidedly not the only reason for watching it.

I could spend pages criticizing the screenplay in several different respects, but other comments in your database have already done this, and these criticisms are ultimately not damming. The important thing is that the film maintains an ongoing flow which sweeps most viewers along and earns it a place as one of the finer musical comedies to have been released in the past quarter century. The object of a film is to entertain the public and in ranking Flashdance I feel I must base my rating on its undeniable success in doing just this. So 7 out of 10.
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5/10
An 80's iconic movie
Kristine1 September 2007
I know how much Flashdance became such a huge hit of the 80's, it defined a whole new generation of clothes, behavior, and dance moves. That's what made Flashdance so special. Now I was born in '85 so I kinda missed out on these things, but I understand it's importance. I just bought this movie yesterday, it was back to back with Footloose, two iconic 80's movies, and I watched Flashdance this afternoon. While this film defined a huge part of the 80's, it was an average film with a simple plot. The acting and story is just pretty average, but it's a cute and fun one.

Alex is a welder by day, but at night she is a sexy exotic dancer who grabs the attention of all the men. But she has big time dreams to become a ballet dancer, she has promised her grandmother that she would apply to the top ballet school and try to get an audition. But Alex is always intimidated by the other "proper looking" dancers with tons more experience than her. She falls in love with a fellow co-worker, Nick, who wants her to make it just as badly. She goes through rough times, but she just wants to make it and will do anything for that chance.

Flashdance is one of those must see movies if you wanna see the important films of the 80's. I just wanted to see what this movie was about since it's such a huge part of film culture. Jennifer Beals actually did a great job as Alex, she was absolutely beautiful and made the character very likable. While this film did not live up to my expectations, it still was a good film. It has an awesome sound track and really is a lot of fun to dance too. Now excuse me, but I wanna try to take my bra off without removing my shirt, lol.

5/10
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80s flash and trash
Monika-514 April 2000
Sure, Flashdance will never make the AFI's Top 100, but it has an infectious charm. Jennifer Beals is really only so-so in the leading role, and her leading man Michael Nouri is no better off, but it doesn't matter. What does matter here is the great music! Really, the whole film is played like a 90-minute ad for MTV! Laugh at the dopey plot and listen to the great tunes. Great film to earmark the 80s.
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Nostalgia
benjmarshall16 June 2004
As other users have said this film is very dated, but not necessarily bad. It was looked upon as a bit of fluff that was very successful in the box office. So now, it would come across as nostalgic (in the same vein as Dirty Dancing). But the thing I do like about it, is just that. Adrian Lyne perfectly captured the time, a post disco era when Break-dancing and Synth Pop were all the rage - Who could forget the FANTASTIC theme song, sung by Irene Cara (Fame) and composed by Synth Pop genius Giorgio Moroder (I feel love - Donna Summer among many others). So what if Jennifer Beals wasn't a great actress? So what if it wasn't her dancing? (Think one of them was a break dancer from "The Rock Steady Crew" - see? All about the era!) she was a good looking girl, and this was a harmless bit of fun at the time.
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