Save the Last Dance
Slammin. The suburban Sara (Stiles) picks up a few moves from innercity hip-hop god Derek (Thomas).
dir Thomas Carter
scr Duane Adler, Cheryl Edwards
with Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington, Fredro Starr, Terry Kinney, Bianca Lawson, Vince Green, Garland Whitt, Dorothy Martin, Elisabeth Oas, Artel Jarod Walker, Cory Stewart
release US 19.Jan.01; UK 30.Mar.01
Paramount 01/US 1h52
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Ballet meets hip-hop in this warmly enjoyable yet unambitious teen romance. When her mother dies in a car crash, Sara (Stiles) gives up ballet and moves from her leafy small town to grim innercity Chicago to live with her wayward dad (Kinney). Suddenly she's thrust into an all-black high school, where she must (a) survive by her wits, (b) learn the behaviour and speech patterns of the street and (c) adjust to a whole new style of music and dance. Her new best friend Chenille (Washington) helps, as does Chenille's younger brother Derek (Thomas), a handsome, brilliant student trying to get away from the tough neighbourhood so he can go study medicine at Georgetown.

No, there's not a smidgen of doubt about where this film is headed. The story is so by-the-book that we know every plot thread's outcome immediately, and we're left in the hands of the director and actors to flesh out the roles and find something worth hanging around for. Fortunately they're all capable, and there's plenty here to keep us interested amid the improbabilities (Sara adjusts alarmingly quickly to her new environment, Sara and Derek amazingly find an abandoned loft where they can practice dance moves, and so on). Performances are superb--Stiles gets her meatiest role yet and shines in it. And Carter keeps the tone sober and surprisingly edgy for the genre (when did we last see a solemn teen romance?). Yet despite this serious mood, the profound racial issues in the story are only touched upon. It seems like a lost opportunity to really struggle with ideas of family, community, perceptions and racism in all its forms. But at least it's a start.
adult themes, language, some violence cert 12 27.Mar.01

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"This movie is excellent. Stiles portrays her loneliness really well at the start of the movie. The film defies the usual teen movie themes. All that actors are great and it has a hip soundtack." --Sophia, London 5.Mar.02
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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