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“Shall We Dance?” with Richard Gere

Posted November. 03, 2004 23:10,   


Middle-aged Chicago lawyer John Clark (Richard Gere) looks perfect from the outside. He’s got a successful career in his profession, Beverly (Susan Sarandon), a warm-hearted wife who loves her family, and two lovable children: he can’t ask for more. One day on his subway commute home, he spots and gets attracted Paulina (Jennifer Lopez), a dance teacher standing by the window of a dance studio. After registering for the beginners’ social dance class at the studio, he finds himself falling into its charms.

The movie “Shall We Dance?” is a Hollywood remake of a Japanese movie under the same title directed by Masayuki Suo in 1996. The original film starring Koji Yakusho won 13 awards in the Japanese academy awards and received enthusiastic reviews in Korea as well when it opened in 2000.

The Hollywood remake is rather dedicated to its original. It does not differ much from the original except in that the main male character was turned into a lawyer from an office man and that family relations such as conflicts with his wife and reconciliation were spotlighted more.

To draw a conclusion, Gere’s “Shall We Dance?” is a work of possibly differing views on them depending on one’s eye level. If you have missed the original by Yakusho, the movie can be interesting enough by itself. However, if you are comparing the new one to its original and measuring which was done better, get ready for a bit of disappointment.

The Hollywood version is smoother on the dancing but lacks drama. Shadows of a successful lawyer’s midlife crisis are missing. Scenes of family members concentrating on their own business and fatigue in the subway are there, but they are nothing but passing episodes. Given the understanding that Western culture is familiar with the dancing culture, it looks a bit force-fed that his love for dancing develops into a conflict with his wife.

Gere still looks charming and sexy as ever in his 50s (54), but his looks fail to add a realistic side to the movie. When he steps into a waltz or when he asks his wife for a dance of reconciliation with a rose in his hand, the audiences’ heart goes palpitating. However, his face is that of a never-aging princess, not of a middle-aged man plagued by life.

The Hollywood remake keeps away from showing any scenes with the ankles of the actor or the actress in the dance scenes even though it takes its subject material from dancing. The lack of flaring feet movements, a unique charm of dancing, makes the screen frothy in its dance scenes. It opens in theaters on November 12. For audiences of 12 years of age or older.

Gab-Sik Kim dunanworld@donga.com