Nov. 30, 2004 The original version of this film, a Japanese movie from 1996 with subtitles in English, was a surprise hit with those who saw it in the United States, partly because of our stereotypes of the inscrutable Japanese and their seemingly distant relationships. A busy but lonely and shy commuter looks out his train window on the way home to his seemingly cold wife and sees a gorgeous woman dancing in a window. She turns out to be a ballroom dance instructor. He ends up signing up for dance lessons – but gets a different (not gorgeous) instructor and a room full of oddball fellow dance novices to contend with. He's not looking for an affair, exactly, but for a spark to light up his life. And this is all in the context of a culture where what he is doing has to be secret, for fear it seem unmanly. While he stumbles through the bad dancing, we wait with baited breath for his wife to discover what he's up to. Will she perceive this as a betrayal and leave him? Will she want to learn to dance too and they'll live happily ever after?
This little synopsis should tell you all you need to know about why the new "Shall We Dance" with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez is a completely different movie. Richard Gere shy? With that billion-dollar smile? Susan Sarandon cold? Even if they had moved her necklines up a yard or two, that woman just naturally smolders. So I'll leave it up to you: if you can believe Richard Gere is unhappily married to Susan Sarandon, and if you don't mind the rap music thrown in to this version to attract more of Miss Lopez' fan base? go for a little light-hearted romance. But keep your expectations low. This flick is like one of those cute chocolate Easter bunnies – it looks so good on the surface, but it's all hollow inside.
Tell you what I'd do instead. Rent the Japanese version and invite your sweetie over. Subtitles are sooo much easier to read in the dark.
Check the schedule for this film here.