Shall We Dance


Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Written by:Audrey Wells
Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci
Released: October 21, 2004
Grade: B+

John Clark (Gere) is a simple, inner-city estate lawyer.  He works long hours and doesn’t see as much of his wife (Sarandon) and two teenage kids as he would like.  John has the feeling that he’s just going through the motions – every day offers the same, unchallenging tasks.  He’s happy that he has a great family but he’s finding himself asking the question whether, deep down, he’s happy with himself.

Recently, he’s become transfixed by a solemn girl standing in the window of a 2nd story dance studio.  He passes the studio on the train ride home from work each day.  Then one day, in a moment of spontaneity, John disembarks at the station opposite the studio and climbs the stairs to find out who the beautiful girl was by the window.

Her name is Paulina (Lopez) and she is one of the studio’s dancing instructors.  Next thing, John has signed up for a beginner’s guide to ballroom dancing.  He’s not quite sure why he’s doing what he’s doing but John soon finds excitement in the art of dancing.  He’s finally doing something different with his life, he’s interacting with new people and even his daughter has noticed an improvement in his personality.

Not quite sure how his wife would react, John keeps the details of his new hobby a secret from Beverly, his wife.  She has become suspicious however of John’s late Wednesday nights and suspecting him to be having an affair, she hires a private detective to investigate.  Suffice to say, she will be surprised by what he uncovers…

Shall We Dance is a sweet romantic comedy that I found myself falling for.  Richard Gere is the key here in that he plays an ordinary character looking for a spark in his life, something we perhaps are all searching for.  An elder audience might relate more to his story but there’s something for everyone in my opinion.  It is Gere who delivers the best lines of the film with his voiceovers so eloquently phrasing the work that he does and the correlation with his own life.  Gere must also be developing a love for dancing having shot this film of the back of the Academy Award winning Chicago.

The film is directed by Peter Chelsom who directed another romantic comedy I enjoyed – Serendipity with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.  Both films have a certain class to them and rely on quality acting to get the job done.  The screenplay is based on a 1996 Japanese film of the same title.  This story does sadly suffer in the in the final half hour with the improvement in the dancing ability of the characters a little too difficult to believe.  Still, it’s a nice story and bound to please most romantics.