Beals makes Welding Sexy
Given that it's nearly 30 years old mention 80s dance movie "Flashdance" to anyone and the first two things to usually spring to mind are the memorable soundtrack and the rather strange set up of Alex a welder by day and dancer by night. Very few people really remember what it was actually about other than a welder wanting to dance. Which really isn't such a surprise because "Flashdance" is quite a shallow movie that whilst having various storylines never really does anything with them, or at least anything with competes with some very memorable and sexy dance scenes.
By day Alex (Jennifer Beals - Runaway Jury) works as a welder in the male dominated world of a Pittsburgh steel works, but at night she works as an exotic dancer at one of the local bars, doing what she loves to do the most, dance. But Alex wants more and dreams of being a professional dancer but lacks the self belief to take that risk of being told she's not good enough. But with a new boyfriend and her supportive friends Alex starts to realise that sometimes you just have to take a risk.
Ignoring all the camera work which focuses on Jennifer Beals shapely bum and the occasional welding scene "Flashdance" actually does have a storyline, one about having the courage to go for your dreams, taking risks and having self belief. This is pepped up by some other drama such as a typical up and down romance, as well as stories of Alex's friends who when they take risks end up failing. But it all seems rather cliche, the emotional journey which Alex goes on to get self belief isn't really that emotional despite it being ramped up to a typical and memorable emotional climax. It's a shame really as the underlying story about reaching for your dreams is one which when done right can have a huge impact on the audience, yet here in "Flashdance" it seems to be ignored just filling in between various set pieces.
That's part of the trouble with "Flashdance" it is a movie which pays so much attention to all the staged set pieces that little else is remembered. Of course there are those welding sequences which got a mention in the hilarious "The Full Monty" as well as plenty of dance routines, some rather strange others quite seductive and raunchy which most certainly stick in your mind. But that's all there is, they end up detracting especially certain ones such as the terribly orchestrated gym work out which looks like a music video in itself. Don't get me wrong those staged moments make "Flashdance" the memorable movie that it is, but it's memorable for the wrong reasons.
Of course there is Jennifer Beals who is drop-dead gorgeous as Alex and it seems the director agreed with my assessment as he favours shooting her bum when she dances or having her tops half draped off her shoulders in numerous other scenes. But Beals actually does quite a good job, quirky enough as the only female in a male dominated construction site but also insecure when it comes to her own ability as a dancer. It is a very believable performance, well that is until it comes to the unfortunate romance side of the storyline which is both predictable and boring, with no real chemistry or passion on show, although a fair bit of raunchiness to spice things up.
Away from Jennifer Beals well the rest of the cast are pretty forgettable. Michael Nouri as construction boss and love interest Nick is solid but nothing more than a cliche as is Kyle T. Heffner who plays cook and budding comedian Richie. The most memorable performance comes from the delightful Lilia Skala who plays Alex's old friend Hanna who encourages her to reach for her dreams.
As with any movie from the 80s there is a certain amount of dating when it comes to "Flashdance". Many of the outfits are terrible with electric blue spandex leggings being unfortunately eye catching. But then many of those outfits strangely wouldn't look so out of place now. It's a weird mix of things as whilst much of the dialogue is dated a lot of things wouldn't be too out of place in a modern movie.
Plus of course there is the hugely memorable soundtrack with the instantly recognizable "What A Feeling" performed by Irene Cara along with numerous others such as "Maniac", "Gloria" and "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" sticking in your mind long after the movie has finished often accompanied by the memorable dance routine which accompanied them.
What this all boils down to is that whilst many remember "Flashdance" for a couple of things it's not instantly memorable because of a great storyline because frankly it doesn't have one. But on whole it is hugely entertaining with a great soundtrack, numerous memorable dance scenes and to be honest a very nice performance from the lovely Jennifer Beals.