Save the Last Dance (2001)

Save the Last Dance

Genre: Drama, Romance

Cast: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas

Synopsis: After her mother dies in a tragic accident, a young girl moves to the Chicago hood where she gets an education in dance, love, and life….très corny, I know.

I have never been much of a dancer. In fact, I’m one of the clumsiest people around. I trip over flat surfaces and have a tendency to knock things over. Moreover, I have no natural rhythm. Watching me dance is like watching Bambi learn to walk for the first time. That’s not to say that I hate dancing. If you read my review of Flashdance then you will know that I love awkwardly gyrating around my room when nobody can see. I my head, I move like someone from So You Think You Can Dance. In reality, I move like a typical white person.


I know that I’m giving in to racial stereotyping by saying that white people can’t dance but, in my experience, it’s generally true. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a very rural and white area, but I’ve yet to be blown away by a white guy on the dance floor. This is why Save the Last Dance gives me hope. Here, you have a girl who is whiter than mayonnaise. She knows a thing or two about dance but lacks the ability to get crunk. After moving to an inner city environment, however, she blossoms and becomes the dancer she always wanted to be. It makes me think that one day I too can mesmerise people when I throw shapes on the floor…instead of just filling them with silent dread.

All joking aside, this movie is tooth-achingly sweet. It has that 90s/early 2000s optimism that features in other teen movies from that time. It’s about overcoming adversity and achieving your dreams. Ordinarily, this would not appeal to me but this film is different. Part of the reason why I like this film is that there is a hot and steamy interracial relationship at its core. I wish I could say that we were at a point, as a society, where interracial relationships on screen were not a big deal. Unfortunately, I do not think we are there, even 13 years after this film came out.

Think about all the romance movies out there. How many of them have an interracial couple in them? I guarantee you it’s not that many and a lot of those films will have an African-American/Hispanic relationship as opposed to an African-American/White one. That’s part of the reason why Save the Last Dance is so good. It’s willing to go where few films have gone. Not only that, it presents a realistic yet positive spin on these relationships. This movie doesn’t shy away from the fact that interracial relationships can be seen as taboo. In fact, it deals with the subject head on. I took a critical race theory class while I studied in the US and I know that talking about race in America is hard thing to do. It makes people uncomfortable. However, it’s important to have those conversations and it’s impressive to see a movie engage in a discussion of race so responsibly.

White Chicks movie imageOthers have not been so responsible…

Beyond the topic of race, Save the Last Dance is enjoyable for other reasons. Firstly, Julia Stiles is awesome and she pulls off some killer moves in this film. Secondly, the supporting cast is strong and her sassy friend lets off some cracking one liners. Finally, the music makes you want to bust a move, even if it is in the privacy of your own home. Who can resist grinding to ‘Murder She Wrote.’ I’m very much talking about the song by Chaka Demus and Pliers, not the TV show. As much as I love Angela Lansbury, I wouldn’t get down to the TV show.


  • Great presentation of an interracial relationship.
  • Julia Stiles is my teen idol. I wish we saw more of her today.
  • It’s a sweet story but not too sweet. There’s hardship in there too.
  • Epic dance choreography.


  • It’s kind of depressing to realise I will never dance that well.
  • Inner city Chicago is bleak. It’s sad to see parts of a city like that. It’s a reminder to all that inequality is alive and well.


Save the Last Dance is the sort of movie you should watch when you’re feeling down in the dumps. It’s a film that is uplifting and just a little bit inspirational. Don’t get me wrong, the movie has its moments of cheese but these can be ignored by focusing on the epic dance scenes and the chemistry between Stiles and Thomas.




Filed under Drama, Good, Romance

4 responses to “Save the Last Dance (2001)

  1. Tom

    Yeah man, same here, I’ve always wondered what happened to Julia Stiles. . .

  2. Teenage me loved this film. What a classic. Meanwhile adult me dances just as well as Rebecca Black’s friend up there. Good times.

  3. Abbi

    I’m a big dance movie fan but the problem with this one is that Julia Stiles isn’t a very good dancer. I agree that the portrayal of the interracial relationship is pretty great though.

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