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Shall We Dance? (1996)
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- Featurette on the American remake
Top Customer Reviews
First, there's the drudgery of the Japanese salaryman...like millions of others Tokyo-based wage slaves, Koji Yakusho's unhappy accountant takes his hours-long train ride home each evening, beaten down a bit more by his lot in life. He spies a dance studio, a dancer...and slowly - night after night - develops a small dream. The night he finally decides to get off the train is a magnificent scene...there's a complete struggle going on inside his body to hop off and stay off that train. I wonder how the re-make will possibly capture even a smidgen of that angst.
Second, there are the strong mores of Japanese society and the overrriding ethos of "the upright nail gets hammered down." In the U.S., to a large extent, the spirit of the individual endures - if you want to dance, you dance. In Japan, not only is Koji Yakusho's character battling himself, he's battling his country's perception of his decision to dance, which basically can be summarized as: "Guys don't." Again, I challenge the re-make to capture this tension.Read more ›
I have several favorite characters in the movie; one is the private detective who's hired by the main character's wife to find out where he's been going at night. The private eye is all business at first, but after tailing his client's husband, he slowly gets drawn into the world of competitive dancing. The other is the shy, overweight, diabetic young man who takes up dancing on his doctor's orders to get some exercise. The scene where he bursts into tears, asking, "Am I really so terrible?" (I forget the exact words) had me in tears myself. The change in this character by the end of the film is amazing.
It's a cliché, but this is a true "feel good" movie, and proof that you don't have to have sex, profanity, and violence to have an engrossing adult film.
I give this Japanese movie 5 stars. However, I give this particular product one star. This American DVD release cut almost 20 minutes from the full Japanese version! Also, the voiceover narration at the beginning of the film is altered! I understand why the studios might think that the film in its entirety might not "sit well" with American audiences, but I honestly don't think that would've changed people's opinion of this classic film.
Perhaps, most of you do not mind, but that is a great travesty to me.
Shohei Sugiyama (Koji Yakusho) is a successful businessman, with a lovely house, loving wife, and a lovely teen daughter. But though he has everything a person could want, he is unhappy and doesn't even know why. But one day on the way home, he sees a beautiful woman (Tamiyo Kusakari) looking sadly out of a dance studio. He sees her there every day, and eventually he hops out of the train and signs up for dancing lessons.
Since ballroom dancing is frowned on in Japan, Sugiyama keeps his lessons a secret, and it's a bit of a struggle for him to overcome his natural stiffness. Because of his odd hours and the perfume on his shirts, his wife is afraid that he's having an affair, and hires a detective to follow him. But after Mai rejects him, Sugiyama begins to have a love affair -- with ballroom dancing itself.
There's something very sweet and pure about "Shall We Dance?", which you hardly ever see in movies. Not just because of the lack of naughty material in it, but because the story itself has a sweet joy just ingrained into the dancing, the dialogue, and the way Sugiyama drags himself from the doldrums.
In Japan, ballroom dancing is considered kind of embarrassing and seductive, which gives Sugiyama's passion for the dance a "forbidden fruit" quality. But the film doesn't lapse into cliche territory. Sugiyama's affection for the beautiful Mai is based in something more than attraction, since he senses that she is as sad as he is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Super great movie! I almost want the main character to be single, but that will be too cliche. Love this movie!Published 18 days ago by Ezequiel Mena
I absolutely adore this charming movie. I must have viewed it a dozen times over the years and it's always entertaining.Published 1 month ago by Joan B.
I liked the movie, I'd seen the preview on the newer version and wanted to see this one. Enjoyable.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A charming movie that truly captures what ballroom dance is about. I have also seen the American version (starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez) and I feel that this version is... Read morePublished 2 months ago by The Hit Pointe
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