Saturday, August 30, 2014
SAVE THE LAST DANCE (2001)
Directed By: Thomas Carter
Written By: Duane Adler & Cheryl Edwards
Story By: Duane Adler
Cinematography By: Robbie Greenberg
Editor: Peter E. Berger, Jeff Canavan & Fritz Freick
Music By: Mark Isham
Cast: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington, Bianca Lawson, Fredro Starr, Terry Kinney
Sara wants to be a ballerina, but her dreams are cut short by the sudden death of her mother. She moves in with her father, who she has not seen for a long time. He lives on the other side of town, in a predominantly Black neighborhood. She gets transferred to a new school where she is one of the few White students there. She becomes friends with Chenille, and later, falls in love with Chenille's brother, Derek.
This film is a guilty pleasure. I saw in theaters though keep in mind this was when I still got movie Tickets for free at certain theaters since I worked at one. So hate it or not the film wouldn't hurt me that bad and as the movie played not only did I enjoy it more than I thought I would. Even more then the friends I was with who wanted to see the film more than I did.
The story is pretty conventional of the central romance at first being adversaries before bonding over dance and soon falling in love, by having issues that pull them apart and we wonder will they come back together in time? Though we all know the ending.
The film breaks no new ground cinematically, but it is a fun film.
Director Thomas Carter cast Julia Stiles in the role of Sara after seeing her "table dance" in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU .
One of Kerry Washington's earlier roles and from this film on Koch she gives a spirited performance. I have been a fan of hers. She just steals all the scenes she is in. Giving the movie true heart. As well as one of the sassiest and funniest characters. Though she also nails her dramatic scenes of which there are a few and gives the film some ground to lay on throughout it's silliest scenes. As her Character is a teenage single mother.
The film tries hard at times to maintain that ground, though can't hide from it's fluffy nature. Of course the film presents some tough edges. In the form of Fredro Starr's Character who introduces and maintains the only violence and crime throughout the film.
As always I love teen films where there are elaborate dance and night clubs that seem like teens only go to that are so extravagant. Even though they are or 21 and over. Everyone gets carded but no one is ever denied entrance either.
One of two Julia stiles films where she falls in love with an African American male. Though overblown in the media making it seem like that was what she did in all of her films for that time period.
Sean Patrick Thomas has a role that I am glad that a film has such a successful intelligent African American character, it also suffers the fate of the guess who's coming to dinner fate. Where as it seems in a film about interracial relationships at it's center the African American has to be some kind of near saint. Just to measure up to their Caucasian counterpart. It feels like Thomas is playing the same small part he played in cruel intentions only in a different location and with different circumstances.
Luckily the movie plays out more as a hip teenage love story rather than a film that will stay focused on race necessarily. Even though that seems to be what it markets itself with. In fact there is only one person who questions that relationship and that is Thomas's ex in the movie the bitchy character who wants him back and Julia stiles character is blocking that. His ex is the only one who complains and asks questions even though it wouldn't matter if he was dating someone new of the same race. She would still cause a ruckus. Really she is only in the film for those few scenes as she serves no other purpose to the overall story.
The film breaks no new ground. Though from it's advertising you know exactly what you are going to get. It's not packed with face scenes. I will say that it is an early version of films like STEP-UP and YOU GOT SERVED. Where there is a romance but a lot of scenes focus on choreographed dance sequences made to amaze. This films dance scenes are more scene and character specific allowing a physicality they can't necessarily show in a PG-13 film, it is also filler for certain scenes and dialogue that in one sequence gives us enough understanding of the characters relationship and feelings for one another.