Posted by Alyssa at February 06, 2001 12:42 PM
Some people know, and those that don't may be horrified to discover, that I have an abnormal fondness for teen flicks. I also have a weird fondness for dance movies, a fondness that I suspect began with "Footloose," a movie I enjoyed much more than "Flashdance" in my 80's youth. I also will see most any movie about interracial romance. Therefore, how could I stay away from "Save the Last Dance," a movie that falls into all these categories? I saw it on Saturday.
I'd just spent several hours on my feet, shopping in Union Square then watching an amazingly long but good Chinese New Year Parade. So it seemed very reasonable to me to walk over to the Metreon and catch a movie. It was a Saturday night, so the theatre was packed with teenagers, an ethnically diverse group. It was a great way to see this movie. If I'd been watching Chocolat and had to put up with the yelling at the characters or the laughing at inappropriate moments, I would have been furious. But in this case, it seemed very appropriate. Everyone was very into the film, calling out to the stunningly beautiful romantic lead, Sean Patrick Thomas, and making fun occasionally of his romantic interest, Julia Stiles.
The story was fluff, naturally. Julia Stiles plays a ballet dancer wanting to get into Juilliard. Her mother is killed in a car crash on the way to see her daughter's audition at Juilliard, during which Julia falls and ruins her chances of getting in. She gives up ballet, feeling it's her fault that her mother was killed. She moves in with her father, who lives in a largely black neighborhood, and she goes to a school with only a few white students, all girls. So naturally, her friends are black and the guy she falls for is black. He gets her back into dancing and she helps him stay away from the bad influence of his gang-member friends. They deal with intolerance from friends and school mates. Julia wears entirely too many braids in her hair once she learns to dance to the hip hop music in the club they go to. Of course everything ends happily ever after. The side stories are more realistic; Sean's movie sister has a child and is dealing with the child's father's delinquency; Julia's father, played by Terry Kinney, is great at having no idea how to deal with a child he's never really known.
The dancing's great and the music is good. The actors are beautiful and most act pretty well. The clothes are fabulous. The writing is fairly intelligent and isn't overly cliched. As far as this kind of movie is concerned, that's high praise.
I really enjoyed it, but then, I would, wouldn't I?
Check out this positive review by Roger Ebert: http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert_reviews/2001/01/011202.html