Critic Reviews



Based on 18 critic reviews provided by
Entertainment Weekly
Even when the catharsis we yearn for arrives, it's tinged with restraint. But then, the true romance in Shall We Dance? is more than personal. It's the spectacle of a nation learning to dance with itself.
Dallas Observer
The film successfully walks the thin line between slick commercialism and "serious" realism. It is sentimental, but it comes by its sentiment honestly, through well-observed performances by the leads and a keen insight into the quirks of the Japanese middle-class culture.
Shohei's journey from unhappy worker bee - the early scenes are cleverly sketched to show his mundane routine without ever themselves being boring - to rejuvenated free spirit is credible, actually earning the film's final emotional wallop. Irresistible.
Good in their individual scenes, Yakusho and Kusakari are magical together. They convey so much yearning -- not so much for each other as for that extra something to give real meaning to their lives.
A charming and moving film about a slightly racy subculture in a highly rule-bound society.
USA Today
Has its moments - but far too many of them. It runs two hours and seems to end five times.
It addresses issues of stultifying routine and the small crises of middle-aged life, and deserves credit for not obscuring the simple story with a flurry of smoke and mirrors.
L.A. Weekly
As sticky as "Strictly Ballroom," if far better behaved, Shall We Dance was written and directed by Masayuki Suo, a man who really knows his way around clichés both benign and tiresome.
Chicago Reader
Its paper-thin characters turned into caricatures by egregious hamming, this 1996 Japanese comedy-drama about shy ballroom dancers is sentimental goo and downright interminable.
The film suffers dearly because of the two underwritten, emotionally unavailable characters at the film's center and when all is revealed at an amateur dance contest, the music — and the modicum of tension the movie has created — dies.

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