15 years ago this week, Save The Last Dance hit theaters.
Sara (Julia Stiles) has just lost her mother in a car accident. Forced to live with her estranged father, Sara goes to a new school whose student population is very different from she is used to. Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) has made some mistakes in his life, but with college and medical school on the horizon, his future appear to bright.
Sara’s dream is to attend Julliard and dance for a living. Derek lets off steam by dancing at the local nightclub. Will their relationship last or will their differences pull them apart?
Save The Last Dance premiered at what I think is a very interesting time in movie history. While many of the romantic comedies/dramas for the then teenage/early 20’s audience was light and funny, this film was different. With a bi-racial romance, a cast that is mostly made of mostly actors of color and a plot based on the truth of life in the inner city, the film stands out.
And the dancing scenes are pretty cool.
I still can’t believe it’s been fifteen years.
In the early 2000’s, Julia Stiles’s career was heating up. Two of the movies she made reflected the reality of the modern world we are living in, where some have chosen romantic partners whose skin color does not match their own.
Save The Last Dance (2001)
Sara (Julia Stiles) is a suburban high school student whose dream it is to go Julliard. After her mother is killed in a car accident, she is forced to move in with her estranged father, Roy (Terry Kinney). Roy is a musician who lives in the South Side of Chicago. The culture shock of an inner city school and the loss of her mother nearly kills Sara’s dream, until she connects with Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), who has a semi-criminal past and wants more than his present circumstances offer.
This movie started the semi-musical dance genre that is still around 13 years later. Unlike the movies that followed this one, Save The Last Dance is one of the best movies of it’s era. Yes, one could argue that this movie does contain stereotypes, but I don’t see it that way. I see it as a story of overcoming what seems like impossible odds to achieve our goals in life.
A high school reboot of William Shakespeare’s Othello, Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) has it all. He is the star of the basketball team, is dating Desi Brable (Julia Stiles) and is treated like a son by his coach, Duke Golding (Martin Sheen). Hugo, Duke’s son (Josh Harnett) is jealous of Odin. He embarks on a plan to destroy Odin, which in turn has it’s own consequences.
For a modern high school reboot of Othello, it’s not a bad movie. Shakespeare is always an easy go to for Hollywood when looking for a good story. He writes about human emotions and human experiences, which has not changed since the 16th century and will never change. And this movie has a nice cast whose careers have only grown since 2001.