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Shall We Dance? 1996
PG

  • Masayuki Suo
  • July 4, 1997
  • 136 mins
  • Japanese
  • Comedy, Drama, Romance, Music
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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I first saw this as an American college student, and I didn't really understand Japanese culture very well. Yet I still found it to be poignant and moving; the protagonist is both selfish and utterly gutsy, putting his heart out there and actively pursuing the art and wonder of dance while, by day, wearing a blank mask and working a typical white-collar job and being a typical stoic father figure to his family. After having lived in Japan now for several years, I can only appreciate his fearlessness that much more, and understand the magnitude of risk he had been taking by joining a dance class. Emotional yet subtle, a truly moving piece of work.

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