Perhaps Love (2005)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-10-12
Summary: That's not dancin'
“Perhaps Love” is an affecting story of love, loss and betrayal wrapped in the musical with mediocre songs and ghastly choreography. It is structured as a movie about making a movie with a straightforward narrative line and flashbacks that occur when the characters watch daily rushes of themselves in a screening room. Sometimes we see footage shot earlier in the day, sometimes scenes from a movie from years before with the same actors and characters and occasionally we see them in “real life”—not as actors in a movie playing characters but as the characters themselves.

Kaneshiro Takeshi and Zhou Xun are both effective and beautiful, Jacky Cheung has an appropriate look of wasted desperation and Ji Jin-Hee is detached as the ironically amused observer. The songs are neither good nor bad—which in a musical or at least a movie that depends on music to make points and move the plot along is a disaster. None of them take off, there are no catch melodies to hum, no soaring lines. However it is the choreography and the way that it is shot and edited that really sinks this movie. Since it was photographed by two princes of the camera, Peter Pau and Christopher Doyle one must assume that the instructions were “put the camera here, use this lens, point it that way” since that is how the dances were filmed. A fixed camera that just pans to keep the dancer in the center of the frame works for capturing Fred Astaire—he insisted on it and revolutionized how dance was shown in movies—but not for the all-singing, all-dancing crowds of chorus girls and boys that was used here. Looking at the work of any successful director of movie musicals from Busby Berkley to Baz Luhrmann one will see a moving camera, multiple angles edited together, zooms, tracking shots, crane shots—all done in an attempt to show a three dimensional art form in the two dimensions of the screen.

And one will also see actual choreography. The movement in the dance numbers in “Perhaps Love” was located almost entirely in the torso and pelvis with some very lame hand movement and a few head snaps. This is fine as part of an integrated whole—Bob Fosse, one of the most talented and honored movie and stage choreographers ever had signature moves that were not completely unlike what we saw in this movie. But he would never make an entire dance, and certainly not every dance, from these moves alone. No competent creator of dance would do so. Since there is not choreography credit here—there is only “dance instructor” which I assume is the equivalent of dance captain—so we don’t know who to blame for this mess.