Saturday, March 26, 2005

Shall We Dance 

It took us three tries, but we made it through Shall We Dance. We should know better than to try to start a movie on a weeknight after I get home from class. But we finished it off this morning. I think part of the trouble also was that this movie takes a while to get going. Richard Gere is a wills & estates attorney, with two kids, married to upscale department store executive Susan Sarandon, with a beautiful house and lovely life... and who feels empty inside. His feeling that he's not happy is compounded by his guilt over not being blissful with what he has.

But every day on his way home on the train, he goes by Miss Mitzy's Dance School and sees Jennifer Lopez gazing out the window with a lonely, faraway look on her face, and he sees himself in her. I think he also sees a hot babe, but he's above all that, it turns out. He finally ventures in to the dance school one day, and his life changes. That's all the detail I'll give.

This is a story about connecting with people, those you know and those you're just meeting, and helping each other discover or uncover the passion in ourselves. It takes work, and patience, and dedication. Watching the movie takes some element of these as well, but it pays off in the end. I think Jennifer Lopez was told by the director that her character is supposed to be closed off and disappointed by life, and she translated this into "She's an automaton." She's very difficult to watch for the first maybe one-third of the movie, but then you start getting glimpses of an actual person inside, and it catches your attention. It's all good after that. Susan Sarandon has a nice secondary storyline as a woman who is confused and a little afraid of the fact that suddenly her husband seems happier for no apparent reason, and in her search to find out why she discovers a few things about herself and her own assumptions about what life is all about.

The best lesson of the film isn't in the dance studio. It's the statement that the reason and the driving force behind spending your life with someone is to be a witness to each other's lives. That's nice.

Reality Check: She agreed that it started off too slow, but that once it got going it was a good movie. She was glad we didn't see it at a theater, though. And we both think that Stanley Tucci looks much better bald. You'll have to see it for yourself.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 3/26/2005 04:02:00 PM