Shall We Dance? is a remake of a 1996 Japanese film of the same name. The Japanese Shall We Dance? film is excellent, and I highly recommend you watch it, as long as you can follow along with the subtitles. Japanese society is much different from American society, and the plot works better coming from that culture.
Having said that, I still appreciated Shall We Dance? released in 2004. Richard Gere is John Clark, a successful attorney who spends his days helping people write their wills, and who has a lovely family. He’s been married to his wife Beverly (Susan Sarandon) for 19 years, and all seems perfect for him out in suburbia: the beautiful house, two wonderful children, and a loving marriage.
But John feels something is lacking in his life. He notices a beautiful woman standing alone in the window of a dance school each night when he commutes home from Chicago on the train. Finally, his curiosity gets the better of him and one night he ventures into the school owned by Miss Mitzi (Anita Gillette). The woman in the window turns out to be Paulina (Jennifer Lopez), who continues to be the mysterious draw for John.
John begins ballroom dance lessons along with two other men, and watching them learn together is delightful. John also discovers that his coworker Link, brilliantly played by Stanley Tucci, is an avid ballroom dancer who keeps his passion for the art secret.
Beverly begins to be suspicious of the changes she and her daughter are seeing in John, and hires Devine (Richard Jenkins), a private detective to trail him. Devine and his classics spouting assistant Scott (Nick Cannon) discover what John is really up to. What happens next is never predictable, and the dancing is wonderful to watch.
When I first saw the film in the theatre, I didn’t like Jennifer Lopez’s performance much. Upon watching it the second time, I appreciated what she did a lot more. Her character is quite depressed when we first meet her, and she brightens up as the story progresses. She is truly an incredible dancer, and shows John and his dance partner Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter) how to Rumba. She also dances a really great Tango with John.
Other dances they learn are the waltz, the quickstep and the Paso Doble. If you like dancing, you will like this film. It also is very thoughtful about the relationship between John and Beverly. Beverly has some outstanding insights into why people marry that she shares with Devine. It’s a great film for Valentine’s Day, and who knows, may just inspire you to dance.