John Clark is a middle aged Chicago estate lawyer. He loves his family, which includes his wife Beverly, but their combined busy schedules and getting caught in a rut after two decades of marriage has left him feeling unfulfilled. While taking the el train home every night, he notices the same young, beautiful contemplative woman staring out of one of the windows of Miss Mitzi's Dance Studio, which specializes in ballroom. He is intrigued enough with her beauty and sadness to go in one evening on his way home. He learns that she is Paulina, one of the instructors and a former world class ballroom dancer. Because of her, he signs up for beginner group dance lessons, regardless of them being taught by Miss Mitzi herself, and not Paulina. As time progresses, John gets caught up in the lives of those at Miss Mitzi's: his two fellow classmates - overweight Vern who wants to learn to dance for his upcoming wedding, and Chic, who wants to impress the ladies - and two of the studio's ...Written by
One of the worst things anyone can do is to try to tackle something that was made better. Hollywood doesn't seem to learn its lesson at all. In trying to "Americanize" the great Japanese film of the same name, the film makers had no idea what they were getting into. In fact, the original film, directed with great flair by Masoyuki Suo, loses all its charm with this reincarnation.
That said, this edition of "Shall we Dance" directed by Peter Chelsom, is not a horrible movie, but the freshness and subtleness of its Japanese model was lost in the translation. While the Japanese version was light and captivating, this adaptation is a bit heavy handed. The editing of the film has a lot to do with out enjoyment, and when the dance sequences in the competition are clumsily handled as it's the case here, one wonders what could the creators have been looking at?
The idea of seeing Richard Gere as the man who is intrigued by the dancing he sees as he passes the dance academy, is not as credible as one would have expected to be. Mr. Gere is versatile enough as he already showed with his role in "Chicago". The idea of his character pulling the wool over his wife Beverly's eyes doesn't come across as too credible. It seems to be a cultural difference that a Japanese wife might be less vocal and accepting a straying husband than in this country by an American wife. That's basically the fatal flaw with the movie, in our humble opinion.
Jennifer Lopez comes across better. As Paulina she shows a professional attitude toward her students, but her chemistry with Richard Gere doesn't create any sparks. Susan Sarandon, as Beverly, the wife who suspects her husband's betrayal, underplays her role with better results than some of her late screen appearances. Stanley Tucci's character is irritating, at best and Lisa Ann Walters does what she can with Bobbie.
Since you probably have seen this version, take a chance and rent the original Japanese film and compare.
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