EW reviews two versions of ”Shall We Dance?”
Americans talk too much. That, among other factors, proves the falling of the gussied-up English-language version of Shall We Dance?. Starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon, this unnecessary remake of the Japanese hit blindly follows the original, without any understanding of what makes Masayuki Suo’s sometimes silly, always endearing story — about a soporific workaholic (Kôji Yakusho) awakened by a wistful waif who teaches him ballroom dancing — so special.
A passing shot of Yakusho’s weathered, worried face as he takes those fateful first steps wondrously communicates his quiet desperation, while in the remake, Gere’s plodding voice-overs guide us through his supposed midlife malaise. When he walks into the dance studio, we can’t fully believe that this is a lost soul reaching for something to save him from his rut; It’s just a frisky Richard Gere jiggying toward J. Lo’s rumba-rumbling rump.
But the remake’s producers wanted to play up the all-star cast’s, um, talents, as they concede in a preview featurette on the original’s DVD. Thus, instead of the understated grace that Tamiyo Kusakari brings to the original as Yakusho’s muse, it’s Lopez’s sultriness that drives Gere’s moves. Meanwhile, Sarandon’s wallowing away scene after scene over her hubby’s presumed infidelity gives the suspicious wife a greater presence than in the original, virtually demoting Lopez to the other-woman role.
Suo conjured up an inspired romance that didn’t rely on consummating a relationship to seduce his audience. Unfortunately, the new version attempts some suspense over which gal our hero will ultimately choose, and an elegant waltz ultimately turns into a garish macarena of a movie. 1996: B+