Shall We Dance? (1996)

I was disappointed when this Japanese homage to an American classic (starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) was remade into an American film. How many more movies by the same name to we need?!

In the Japanese version, a businessman grows tired of his life as a corporate drone. Each commute home from work he passes a dance studio. From an excursion born of curiosity grows an obsession. Besides the lure of American culture, in which couples publicly display affection for one another, there is s excitement and glamor in playing out a famous movie scene. Eventually, the businessman’s wife realizes her husband is blossoming into a passionate and lively man, who is obvious fond of something/ someone other than her. Once she discovers the object of his attention she’s both relieved and frustrated; they should grow together not apart. Instead, he rather than share his new hobby with her, he’s kept it as a mistress.

The most recent iteration was no doubt a marketing ploy to profit from the success of its Asian counterpart. The message that Western filmmakers hoped to promote is completely opposite of the themes that can only make sense in the context of Japanese culture and thus completely loses all ability to spark discussions about tradition, cultural appropriation, etc. And no, casting a Latina-American as a lead doesn’t count for anything.

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