Thursday, June 18, 2009

DANCE, SUBARU! Sweet, But She's No Dancing Queen

DANCE, SUBARU! (Dance drama)
Cast: Meisa Kuroki, Sano Miku, Yuta Haraoka, Kaori Momoi, Toshio Kakei and Ara
Director: Lee Chi Ngai
Time: 113 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Sano Miku, Meisa Kuroki and Ara

PREAMBLE: Don't be put off by the fact that this movie is adapted from a Japanese manga written by Masahito Soda. On the other hand, don't expect too much of it either. The manga is reportedly about a young dancer's quest to combine ballet and breakdance - but you are not going to be floored by its dance moves, especially if you are a dance enthusiast yourself.

THE SKINNY: As children, Subaru and her twin brother Kazuma share a dream of dancing ballet together. This is not to be as Kazuma dies of a hereditary disease that has also killed their mother. Subaru, however, is determined to pursue that dream alone - and she sneaks into a cabaret to watch the dancers.

Subaru's enthusiasm is noticed by cabaret club owner and retired ballerina Madam Isuzu (Kaori Momoi) who trains and encourages her to dance. Meanwhile, she also takes lessons from the mother of her classmate Mana (Sani Miku) and even gets a nudge or two from a friend named Liz Park (Korean actress Ara) who also gets her involved in the world of break-dancing.

With so much going her way, Subaru nevertheless has obstacles: her demons, her health and her father who wants her to go to college. The crunch comes when Subaru has to audition in Shanghai for a scholarship.

HITS & MISSES: You don't have to be familiar with the ballet world to realise that the story is pure hokum! In real life, no one is going out of their way to get anyone to dance professionally and compete against oneself. Not even in the name of art!

However, director Lee Chi Ngai, who also wrote the screenplay, seems adept at warming up the movie to the audience, despite the wooden performance of lead star Kuroki. Indeed, Kuroki may be sexy and alluring but there is no chemistry whatsoever between her and her co-stars.

Among the cast, Ara is the most outstanding and easily steals the show from Kuroki. So does Momoi at various scenes. The cinematography by Takuro Ishizaka is first class, though.

THE LOWDOWN: Young and sweet, and only 17, but she's no Dancing Queen!


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