Flashdance (1983) / Drama-Romance

MPAA rated: R for nudity, sexuality and language
Running time: 95 min.

Cast: Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala, Sunny Johnson, Kyle T. Heffner, Lee Ving, Ron Karabatsos, Belinda Bauer, Cynthia Rhodes
Small role: Robert Wuhl
Director: Adrian Lyne
Screenplay: Joe Eszterhas, Thomas Hedley Jr.
Review published December 8, 2012

Flashdance 1983A surprise hit of 1983, and influential in the dance-film genre on its own, Flashdance came at the right ime, as MTV-style rock video editing and music montages became the norm for hits at the box office. Much of the film's success can be attributed to the major hit, Grammy-winning soundtrack, which featured such classic 80s cuts as Irene Cara's "Flashdance...What a Feeling" (which would earn the Academy Award for Best Song), Michael Sembello's "Maniac", among other more minor charters. Despite the R-rating, the film was a hit for the teenage audience, who were attracted to the thumping pop tunes and flashy editing, not to mention the titillation factor of the strip tease components.

There isn't too much going on in the plot. Jennifer Beals (Devil in a Blue Dress, Roger Dodger) plays 18-year-old Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day who pursues her passion for dancing at night at a blue-collar bar with a risqué revue of sexy (but not nude) dancers and up-and-coming comedians. Alex's dream is to get into ballet, but her lack of formal training doesn't even allow her to get her foot in the door to try out. While she churns out a scorching dance routine, she catches the eye of her wealthy boss in attendance, Nick Hurley (Nouri, The Hidden), who begins to hotly pursue her despite her protestations of not wanting to date the boss. He eventually wins out, and what follows is mostly predictable, but full of plenty of eye candy.

Flashdance would be the first of several lucrative collaborations between producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson (Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop), and it would set the mold for the types of films they would make together in the upcoming years, with lots of pop hits and slick editing, plus a helping of glossy sexual undertones. Also scoring big, the screenplay would be the first hit for noted 1980s and 1990s scribe Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Showgirls), while Adrian Lyne (Foxes, Nine 1/2 Weeks), whose previous work had mostly been in TV commercials, gets the most out of slick-looking, tightly edited shots.

Despite the sketchy characterizations and formulaic plotline, Beals does manage to stand out with her performance as young Alex, tough but vulnerable enough to root for as she desires to pursue her dreams but seems too afraid of failure. Beals is covered well by some sensational dancers, including Marine Jahan, who double whenever there is a big dance number. Lyne, working with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Don Peterman (Splash, American Flyers), does a nice job keeping the lighting, hair and makeup just dark and shady enough for the transitions between performers to seem mostly seamless for those not looking specifically for the changes. Michael Nouri is also appealing as her boss and suitor, though the age gap between the teenager and established businessman seems to hardly be a consideration in the story at all (Nouri and Beals have an 18-year age difference in real life).

Flashdance isn't substantive enough to get a wholehearted recommendation to someone not looking for a rather mindless dance-fantasy flick or just some 1980s nostalgia, but along those lines, it does entertain while it is on, and the dancing is well worth watching.
Qwipster's rating:

©2012 Vince Leo