Successful middle-aged accountant Shohei Sugiyama (Koji Yakusho) has a loving wife (Hideko Hara) and a beautiful daughter, but for some reason feels unfulfilled with his life. One night, while riding his commuter train home, Sugiyama signs up for ballroom dance lessons in hopes of reinvigorating his mundane existence.
In a weird way, it reminds me of Footloose - where intimate dancing is so outside of the norm is so contained that when the characters are able to express themselves, you can't help but feel proud and free alongside them. It's just one of those movies that always sticks out in my mind, and amazing to think it won 14 awards at the Japan Academy Film Prize.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
France, 1770. Marianne, a painter, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a young woman who has just left the convent. Héloïse is a reluctant bride to be and Marianne (Noémie Merlant) must paint her without her knowing. She observes her by day, to paint her secretly.
I saw this last year right before everything went into lockdown. The experience of driving to the theater when the world was starting to look like an abandoned zombie apocalypse and not knowing if/when movies were going to open up again was pretty surreal. With the film itself, I never got around to putting into actual words the emotions. It just made my queer heart soar.
Another Round (2020)
Four high school teachers consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives.
The first and most popular thing I heard about Another Round was Mads' dance. It's a long "wait" before that moment. A lingering tension fills up every frame of the film as the characters drink more and more. When his the big moment finally comes, it's completely unexpected and surprising to learn how Mads choreographed that scene. Being a former professional dancer will give him the grace to make it look so easy, but it's like a total explosion of freedom. Exactly what his character needs, maybe even more than what the drinking experiment intended to do. It's the kind of moment we need for ourselves after 2020 and if we ever get a real handle on COVID.