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.