Review: Shall We Dance

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You expect a ‘comedy' to tickle your funny bone so you can walk out chuckling. Yes, Shall We Dance does raise laughs. But - it also raises some interesting questions. The DVD says it's ‘A New Comedy About Following Your Own Lead' and a pun like that is bound to appeal to the individualistic age we are supposed to be living in. It does indeed – and yet, what is happiness and contentment? Is it a lovely, loving and loved spouse and all the trappings of a comfortable settled life? Can there be a sense of incompleteness in spite of having ‘everything'? Is that then ingratitude? Should one be allowed to pursue individual goals? At what cost?

John (Richard Gere) and Beverly (Susan Sarandon) Clark are comfortably married. They have two children, and he a good job as a lawyer. Yet, he is not ‘happy'. He fills the void in his life by impulsively shooting out of his commuter train seat up the stairs of Miss Mitzi's Dance School after being captivated by Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) gazing out of the school window. A clumsy, shy, reluctant dancer at first, he taps a hidden side to his personality and blossoms into an accomplished ballroom dancer. All very well, except none of his family is aware of this chrysalis bursting open in this way.

In roughly one hour and forty-five minutes, the film turns all expectations and predictability on their respective heads. With all the action building up towards the climactic Chicago Tattinger Trophy who could blame you for expecting a neatly wrapped package at that point: Clark rewarded for his accomplishment, all revealed and settled? But - it is its aftermath that has much to say. Yes, there is dance as the mating ritual. Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter), earthy, vivacious, loud, generous-hearted, is disappointed at Clark's treatment of Rumba, "the dance of love". Paulina with her smouldering, controlled, Latino (stereotypical?) passion sets him straight. Yes, there is the hinted sexual attraction, even tension. But -...
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