Dir: Adrian Lyne, 1983
The 1980’s was the time of the dance film. Spurred on the success of Saturday Night Fever in 1977, Hollywood became a wealth of dancing themed movies. Staying Alive, The Apple, Breakin’, Footloose, Dirty Dancing; all part of eighties nostalgia.
Attempting to cash in on the trend with Flashdance, was producing newcomers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, later to be crowned as gods of the action film.
Helmed by British director Adrian Lyne, Flashdance tells the story of female welder, Alex (Jennifer Beals). Dancing in sordid clubs, all Alex wants to do is dance professionally.
Yeah, that’s the long and short of it.
The story is ludicrous. At the risk of appearing sexist, the idea of a woman who welds for a living but craves the art of dancing, just doesn’t gel. It all smacks of a feminist Hollywood. Girls vs. boys stuff. Whatever a man can do, so can women.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The world has its fair share of women doing, what you would consider, mens work. Mechanics, plumbers, welders, builders. All do a fine job and deserve the greatest respect.
But, in the realms of this film, nothing rings true. Director Lyne, has no idea how to direct this film. He resorts to unoriginal set ups and actions. Alex is eighteen. Where on earth did she learn to weld so brilliantly and at such a young age? Jennifer Beals looks glamorous through the whole film. Even when she takes off her safety visor, there isn’t a speck of dirt to be seen. Her hair is always immaculate. When you spend an eight or nine hour day welding, the last thing you look is beautiful. She simply shakes her perfectly styled hair in to shape. You would think it was a shampoo advert!
Not a particularly special effects driven film, you can’t help but wonder whether most of the budget was spent on water. There’s more water in this than The Deep. Literally, the characters sweat it by the bucketload. Talk about overkill. They go for a shit and come back looking like they’ve just auditioned for Titanic.
Flashdance has so many problems and issues, it’s amazing that Lyne, Simpson and Bruckheimer were ever allowed to work again. It’s pure cheese.
Yet, despite the inherent problems, the film has a somewhat likeable feel to it all. Beals is an amiable actress, even if she doesn’t have much of a range. However, thanks to The Full Monty, it’s increasingly difficult (if not impossible) to watch the film without hearing Mark Addy criticising Beals’ welding skills.
Take Flashdance for what it is, and you may get a modicum of enjoyment out of it.