Shall We Dance?
dir. Peter Chelsom
Opens Fri Oct 15.

I hate this movie for several reasons, one of which is, it's not funny and yet tries desperately to be funny, and the acting is all bad--Richard Gere looks exhausted, Susan Sarandon looks distracted, and Jennifer Lopez looks dumb. Then there is the story itself, which is derived from a Japanese film of the same name and, at root, is about the middle class' primary dilemma: infidelity. The rich and the poor don't have to worry about infidelity--that is a preoccupation for the middle class, who are not rich enough to afford, nor poor enough to ignore, the imagined risks and turmoil of infidelity. Those in the middle class are doomed to dream and scheme. They waste hours in the office fantasizing and dying. They owe it to their children, they owe it to their partners, they owe it to their little investments to never transform these daily deliriums into a messy reality.

In Shall We Dance?, which is directed by Peter Chelsom, an estate planner (Gere) wants to fuck a mysterious dance instructor (Lopez). His marriage is safe, dull, and very white; in a flash he sees the exact opposite of all that he is--a brown voluptuous woman. She thrives in the heart of the city (Chicago); he is imprisoned in the suburbs. She has passion; he has a pension. As always, the north wants to hump the south. He makes a cautious move toward his desire, but what he ends up with are a bunch of dance lessons instead of sex. He accepts these poor terms, and begins to learn ballroom dancing. His wife (Sarandon), who has a career as a fashion designer, suspects he is having an affair; but she soon learns that he is spending his nights practicing the tango. The movie ends with the marriage reaffirmed and a return of peace to the kingdom of the petty bourgeoisie. Nothing exasperates me more than the insect values of the middle class.

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