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Shall We Dance?(Shall We ダンス?)

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Japan · 1996
Rated PG · 2h 16m
Director Masayuki Suo
Starring Kōji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari, Naoto Takenaka, Eri Watanabe
Genre Music, Comedy, Drama, Romance

A bored Japanese accountant sees a beautiful woman in the window of a ballroom dance studio. He secretly starts taking dancing lessons to be near her, and then over time discovers how much he loves ballroom dancing. His wife, meanwhile, has hired a private detective to find out why he has started coming home late smelling of perfume.

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What are critics saying?


Newsweek by

The film suffers dearly because of the two underwritten, emotionally unavailable characters at the film's center and when all is revealed at an amateur dance contest, the music — and the modicum of tension the movie has created — dies.


Dallas Observer by Gregory Weinkauf

The film successfully walks the thin line between slick commercialism and "serious" realism. It is sentimental, but it comes by its sentiment honestly, through well-observed performances by the leads and a keen insight into the quirks of the Japanese middle-class culture.


Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Its paper-thin characters turned into caricatures by egregious hamming, this 1996 Japanese comedy-drama about shy ballroom dancers is sentimental goo and downright interminable.


L.A. Weekly by Manohla Dargis

As sticky as "Strictly Ballroom," if far better behaved, Shall We Dance was written and directed by Masayuki Suo, a man who really knows his way around clichés both benign and tiresome.


Entertainment Weekly by Owen Gleiberman

Even when the catharsis we yearn for arrives, it's tinged with restraint. But then, the true romance in Shall We Dance? is more than personal. It's the spectacle of a nation learning to dance with itself.


San Francisco Chronicle by Ruthe Stein

Good in their individual scenes, Yakusho and Kusakari are magical together. They convey so much yearning -- not so much for each other as for that extra something to give real meaning to their lives.

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