|It seems to me that Julia Stiles is becoming the poster girl for movies that deal with interracial romances, what with "O" (Othello) filmed a few years ago and this latest release. Save the Last Dance is a story with many different elements in it, with all of them struggling to be the dominant factor. And this film resolves most of the problems it creates and delivers a great message at the same time. That's not to say there aren't a few problems with this movie, but it does try very hard to become a film with a conscience and a story with substance.|
That kind of sounds like a marketing campaign, but it's true. This film tries to accomplish a lot in less than three hours and in most respects it succeeds. One of the most basic elements is the Kerri-Strug-esqe "you can do it" element to Julia Stiles's storyline. She's a dancer whose path wavers somewhat on her journey to fame as fortune, but is emboldened her boyfriend, played by Sean Patrick Thomas, a character who has a host of problems of his own. Not the least being his slight criminal past and the choices he must make concerning his future and whether or not it will include that criminal element.
Of course, with all these deep questions and decisions weighing on the minds of these young people, the drama sometimes turns to melodrama and the story gets a little sappy sometimes. But perhaps that's the genre this film belongs to. It's hard to make the problems of such young people be so significant, without dancing into weepy sappy territory. Which isn't all that bad, but you can rest assured that most guys will term this film a "chick flick." What a stupid phrase. It's okay for women to like action films, but the moment a guy shows some interest in a movie that wasn't specifically targeted towards the male segment of the audience, he's called a "chick."
I guess it then falls on the audience to drag their boyfriends into the theater to see this one. Although this film dealt with a somewhat volatile subject, Though it hasn't been strictly taboo for several years now. With the increasing acceptance of interracial couples in the twenty-first century, it sometimes falls upon filmmakers to create a story that promotes the tolerance of this subject. I fell though that this film somehow creates a stereotypical view of "Stella" and "Derek." There's the white girl from the middle class suburb who comes into contact with the black guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
I feel that the situation would have been more interesting, and less run-of-the-mill if the filmmakers had put some sort of twist on the whole situation. It's the classic story, save for the interracial romance. I think it might be more important to create a story where the interracial romance is just part of the film, instead of it's main focus. Because the stories of the main characters are kind of covered up by the story of all the black/white stuff. It's like when black actors first began appearing on sitcoms and dramas on prime time television. At first, it was like "he's the black man on that television show." And now it's like "he's one of the doctors on the medical staff."
Although the differences between the races have not been completely done away with, there has been at least some progress in the entertainment world concerning black actors and actresses and even people behind the camera. I feel that the interracial relationship between the two characters should have been something that was just part of the film, instead of being the entire point of the film. That's not to say that the story wasn't effective. Because for all the cliché’s present concerning the relationship between black and white members of the film, the emotions present between the two leads were, for all intents and purposes, realistic.
And I cared about what happened to everyone in the story. There were strong performances not only from the main characters, but also from all the supporting actors. And the story of a girl who wants to dance, and the boy who makes her believe in herself, was very touching. Also interesting is how she does almost the same service for him. In all fairness, it might not be proper to put so much pressure on the people who made this film. It is a pioneer of sorts in its field in that it takes on the subject of interracial dating so head on. Though sometimes melodramatic, this movie is a good example of filmmakers trying to break down the barriers of racism.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.