What a Bad Feeling I have about “Flashdance”

One thing I mainly expect when I watch a movie or a TV show is to be able to root for someone. Even if the protagonist is a bit of a jerk, or an anti-hero at best, there’s usually always a redeemable quality to them that makes you want them to succeed in their goals. But when the principal character doesn’t come off as a jerk per se, they seem to be so unlikely that you never really forge a connection with them. They remain as a sort of a caricature of sorts, so that you never really feel as though you know them as a person.

That’s the main problem I had with the main character of Adrian Lyne’s 1983 dance flick,”Flashdance”, Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals). She’s an 18 year old aspiring dancer who works as a welder in a steel mill during the day, but at night moonlights as an erotic dancer in a local bar, Mawby’s.

The film chronicles Alex’s goal to audition for a prestigious dance school in Pittsburgh,as she as promised her elderly mentor, Hanna (Lilia Skala) she would, as well as her blossoming relationship with Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri), her recently divorced boss at the steel mill. Alex is determined to follow her dreams, but does she have what it takes?

As much as I hate to admit it, I didn’t have an entertaining time while watching “Flashdance”. While I did enjoy some of the songs (notably, the title song “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” by Irene Cara), Jennifer Beals’ engaging and hopeful central performance as Alex, and her sentimental friendship with Hanna, I didn’t like how some of the running time would be taken up with endless dance sequences, and it didn’t really spend time developing Alex’s character. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Alex seemed to be an unbelievable character to me. Ironic, I know, since the movie was based on the true story of Maureen Marder, a steel mill worker whose story played out similar to Alex’s.

I also found the romance between Alex and Nick to be rather lacking in depth. To be fair, this might have been in part because of the age difference between the actors (Beals being 18 and Nouri 36 during filming). As they both spent almost all of their scenes together berating and screaming at each other constantly, I eventually reached the point where I couldn’t have cared less if they got together in the end, as they both seemed to make each other more miserable than content, which doesn’t exactly make you want to see two characters such as these together.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert infamously slammed “Flashdance”, likening it to “a ninety minute music video” and placing it on his “Most Hated Films” List. I’m inclined to agree with Ebert on this one. I know some people may enjoy this dance movie, but I wasn’t one of them, and I’m giving “Flashdance” only two and a half stars out of five.

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Bibliophile96

I am a lover of books, 80's movies and simply acting of any kind! My blog is mainly about sharing my enjoyment of these interests with people with similar pastimes.

5 thoughts on “What a Bad Feeling I have about “Flashdance””

  1. Hi there, Bibliophile96 … Your point is soooo compelling, I just had to write!

    I am still amazed that Hedley keeps trying to convince everyone (in “Flashdance the Musical” now) that HE wrote the story of a young female dancer trapped in a working class world, looking longingly at the world of ballet dancers with lives of privilege. I’m also still surprised, in fact, that the Hollywood crowd actually asked Katherine Reback to write the production drafts for the film, in order to ‘flesh out the girls’ and give them voices. (She didn’t receive any credits on the film, and neither did Marine Jahan or I.)

    Without all the women who contributed Flashdance would never have been realized at all, but Hedley continues to pretend nonetheless that it is he alone who knows anything about how a young working class woman thinks and behaves.

    How indeed could anyone ‘know [Alex] as a person’? Despite Hollywood’s best efforts with this film, it’s still just the silly retelling of my story by some men pretending to be knowledgeable about a young woman’s experience, so you’ll never really know Alex unless you know me.

    Thanks for your insightful observation!
    🙂 Maureen Marder (aka Alex Owens)
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the ’80s too, but did not really like this film except for the interactions between her and the other dancers. I thought that Nick was creepy, the way he would follow her and get involved when she didn’t want him to. I never bought their romance either, it seemed more obsession on his side and light interest on hers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more with your statement about Nick. The movie tried to play him off as a typical romantic lead, but I felt that many of his actions, however well-intentioned, crossed a definite line. He seemed to use his positions as both Alex’s boss and boyfriend to justify meddling into her personal life.

      This was a very hard movie to sit through, all things considered. For an alternative 80’s dance movie, I would recommend watching either “Footloose” or “Dirty Dancing” instead.

      Liked by 1 person

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