Monday, October 18, 2004

The Ultimate "Chick Film"

We saw a movie last Sunday that I recommend highly.

"A workaholic lawyer's life and marriage take an unexpected twirl when he follows a beautiful woman to a Chicago dance studio and becomes a clandestine ballroom dance competitor in SHALL WE DANCE. What begins as a romantic comedy soon turns into an exhilarating tale about the unexpected places one finds passion..."

Richard Gere is brilliant as John Clark, an attorney confronting the usual "fork in the road" that is midlife, in the face of apparent material success and domestic bliss. The latter is only on the outside, however, and he looks for more. His charming wife, played by Susan Sarandon, has no idea of how he spends his Wednesday evenings "working late." How she discovers her husband's secret, and how they both respond to this revelation, is at the heart of the story.

Jennifer Lopez is captivating as Paulina, the dance instructor who initially catches the eye of John. To the credit of both screenplay writer Audrey Wells and director Peter Chelsom, the film bypasses more than one opportunity to devolve into a cheap affair between the two of them. John is able to keep temptation at bay, while his attraction for Paulina is, in reality, a catalyst for his love of the dance. Having lost at love and life herself, their friendship is a chance for Paulina to find herself again as well.

The supporting players are thoughtfully conceived and brilliantly cast. The film does contain some sexual references and mature language, but never at the expense of the story, thus making SHALL WE DANCE suitable fare for adults and adolescents as well.

I recommend this film or married couples seeking to rekindle the romance in their lives, as well as for their older children as a teaching moment.

We give SHALL WE DANCE a tip of the Black Hat, and two thumbs up.

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