Flashdance is an odd duck. When it first came out it was seen as this big thing, it influenced fashion, and launched the producing careers of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer who went on to produce some of the biggest hits of the 80s and 90s. Watching it now, it entertains, but it’s blatantly obvious that Jennifer Beals didn’t do her own dancing (something that was attempted to be kept under wraps during the film’s release) and there are some really creepy things with the relationship between 18 year old Alex (Beals) and the much older Nick (Micheal Nouri).
Alex is a welder in Pittsburgh, and at night she dances at Mawby’s Bar, a step up from the strip club just across the street. Here she expresses herself through movement, and dreams of dancing as part of a dance repertory, but is too afraid to try out.
When her boss, Nick, starts asking her out, verging on harassment, and stalking, she begins a relationship that may lead to her finding the inner strength to take the first step in following her dreams.
She is surrounded by others who want to pursue their dreams, and when they fail, it affects Alex, making her even more fearful, but dancing is the only place she’s truly free.
With a soundtrack that sizzled on the charts, and iconic songs that forever linked with the film, this movie is very much a Simpson/Bruckheimer film, glossy sequences underscored by pop songs, while it is also suggestive sexual as most of Lyne’s films have been.
It’s an odd combination, but at the intersection of the right time, and the right place, it could be a hit. And it was. It’s not the best movie, but there was something that triggered the viewing public, and the world embraced it. There is iconic imagery, style, songs, and it’s a simple story, though, like I said with some creepy overtones with the way Nick pursues Alex.
I had only seen this one once, and I only caught parts of it on a Super Channel/First Choice preview weekend when I was a kid, and I didn’t understand a lot of it. But even then, I think I had the suspicion that Beals wasn’t doing her own dancing. Nothing against the rest of her performance, she’s engaging, sensual and beautiful, it’s just too bad that they didn’t cast someone who could dance as well – like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.
Still, it’s an iconic 80s film, and endures to this day and reminds you to follow your dreams.