Full of excitement, we set forth at midnight to view the movie show "Let It Be Me" on its first preview night, anticipating perhaps another "Dirty Dancing". We were definitely over estimating the movie via its fascinating advertisement pictures.
"Let It Be Me" started off with almost a similar theme as "Shall We Dance" (the award wining show) but showing the silhouettes of the dance instructors through the dance studio window instead of the instructress' beautiful face. The plot revolved around 4 couples, the main leads being the established Psychiatrist Doctor who was fascinated with the sensuous dance movements executed by the dance instructors and wanted to learn dancing in order to dance with his bright sunny fun-loving nursery teacher fiancee on their wedding day.
Next come the male dance instructor cum studio owner who looked like another Patrick Swayze, who was the ex-teenage lover of the Doctor's fiancee, who caused the cancellation of the Doctor's & his fiancee's first wedding plan, who believed in teaching students to dance from the heart (a little bit of "Strictly Ballroom" here) who had a love-hate relationship with his teaching partner of which both of them wanted to expand their business by opening up another dance studio in another country.
The 3rd couple consisted of a destitute senior jobless has-been male instructor who managed to beg for a dance instructor position in the studio, who later married his widowed dance pupil with moderate wealth who staged their meeting at the dance studio just as she staged the meeting with her first husband at a cheese burger joint. The last couple was an oddly matched married pair consisted of a fat husband and his buxomy wife and were married for 10 years.
The husband attended dance lessons alone, who loved to dance with the best and most beautiful woman and who believed that dancing together with his wife would cause marital disaster. He was the one whom the Doctor turned to when seeking advise on dancing matters or matters of the heart.
The dancing shown was very Americanized, the Waltz was a west coast swing, the Tango was a cross between International Modern Tango and International Latin Paso Double. However, Singapore viewers will be able to recognize the Disco Rock (they called it the Hustle) danced between the Male Instructor and the Doctor's Fiancee as well as the last dance sequence which was the social samba, similar to what is being taught here.
The dance which was repeated most often throughout the movie was the Rumba which was a mixture of International Latin Rumba cum Rock N Roll acrobatics. Singapore viewers will also be able to recognize the dance studio settings and the studio practice nights where dance couples practice their routines or gather for socializing.
In real life dance competition/show, the dance routines are practiced again and again for a number of years until perfection is achieved but in movies, somehow we wish that more dance routines with real ballroom dancers were shown instead of repetitions by poorly trained dancers. It was a slow moving movie with the 4 main couples being interwoven into the plot in a slightly disjointed manner. A little bit of "Shall We Dance", "Strictly Ballroom" and "Dirty Dancing" were borrowed and incorporated into the movie.
One great disappointment was Jennifer Beals (who seemed to have lost a bit of weight) who shone brightly in "Flash Dance" but was dancing mediocally in "Let It Be Me". We would still recommend this show for viewing but feel that it is certainly not worth missing precious sleeping hours to watch it. 'Shall we dance' was definitely the better movie by a wide margin and probably one of the best dance movies to date.
Rumour has it that the distributor of "Let It Be Me" tried to find sponsors from Singapore dance schools but to no avail since there wasn't any dance schools' logo in the advertisements.
Some of our sources have been so kind as to tell us that the new dance movie called 'Shut up and Dance' (about International Latin Competition, starring Vannessa Williams) will be released early next year (Feb 98). And yet another rumor is that 'Shall We Dance' is being remade in Hollywood. Do drop us a note if you can confirm any of these great coming movies.