Shall We Dance?

Miscast, misguided and woefully misbegotten, this clumsy American remake of the deftly delicate 1996 sleeper hit from Japan is too blah to bludgeon. Director Peter Chelsom, though nowhere near as deep into doo-doo country as he was in Town and Country, is the victim of a culture clash between Japanese reserve and American bravado.

The story concerns a rigid middle-aged worker drone, cocooned in a too-comfortable marriage, who sees a beautiful woman in a window as he takes his train home. She's a ballroom-dance instructor, and soon he works up the gumption to take lessons — not to hustle her but to find the spark of possibility that's gone dead in his soul.

It's fun to see Richard Gere dance again after Chicago, but this confident, charismatic actor is all wrong for the role of a man nobody notices. As the dancer, Jennifer Lopez primps and poses instead of acting. And Susan Sarandon is way too hot a number to convince as the neglected wife. What's left is a lot of strenuous playacting when what's called for is the finesse of the Japanese original. Skip this stub-toed substitute.

From The Archives Issue 400: July 21, 1983
x