First Wednesday Films
Next screening on December 2 at 7:30 PM
Shall We Dance
(1996) 2 hr, 15 min.
A depressed Tokyo accountant secretly takes lessons in a dance school. His wife becomes suspicious. “One of the more completely entertaining movies I've seen in a while” - Roger Ebert. In Japanese with English subtitles. Rated PG.
MRHS Tuttle Center, 100 La Salle, #MC
$1.00 suggested donation
Film review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat:
The fourteenth-century Catholic mystic Catherine of Siena once observed: "You have nothing infinite except your soul's love and desire." In Shall We Dance? Shohei is a middle-aged accountant who lives with his wife and daughter in a comfortable suburban area. One day while riding the train, he notices a beautiful woman looking out the window of a rundown building. Overwhelmed by his desire to find out more about this woman Shohei boldly enters the place where he saw her and discovers it is a dance school. He signs up for a beginner's class, approaching this challenge with the same earnestness he displays at work.
A wonderful teacher helps him discover how to enjoy the music and relax into the movements. Through consistent practice, Shohei becomes quite accomplished doing the waltz - even catching the eye of the enchanting Mai, the woman in the window, who helps him prepare for a national competition. Eventually his wife and daughter find out about Shohei's secret hobby, but by then he has found a new lease on life.
Japanese writer and director Masayuki Suo shows how desire is a force field that takes us beyond ourselves and enables us to transform our lives. By letting himself go, Shohei is liberated from his middle-aged malaise. He learns to live in the moment, to trust his body, and to flow with the magic elan of dance. And best of all, Shohei enables Mai to see dance competition afresh with the enthusiasm of an amateur. This irresistible Japanese film celebrates the spiritual uplift of boundless desire.
And by Tabi Maya:
Japanese society is quite different from ours and plays such a major part in this film, as explained in the opening narration. It adds to the humor as well as warmth of this movie.
There is slew of different supporting characters/personalities. Each does their part in making this movie wonderful.
This movie is full of comedy that isn't vulgar in anyway like most of today's "gross-out comedies." Yet it can still have you laughing out loud.
The reality is, in real life, you don't have a choice of who you work with or go to school with... etc. This movie truly emphasizes that and shows that the natural good in people can overcome petty differences. Not to mention, it makes for a great sub-plot and much of the humor.
This is a story about dance that actually has a story, and a good one at that. There are a few back stories that are not out of place, but actually support the main storyline. Truly a well written film.
The dancing is great, too. However, this movie goes beyond it in that it is a story first and just happens to be written about dancing in Japanese society. Highly recommended.