Save the Last Dance

A rather narrow-minded look at interracial love and hip-hop in high school

Save the Last Dance

D: Thomas Carter (2001); with Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Terry Kinney, Kerry Washington.

This effort from MTV was a surprise hit last year. While trailers billed it as a white-girl-discovering-hip-hop story, the plot's a little more involved than that. Sara (Stiles) is a former Julliard ballet prospect. When her mother dies en route to see her at a vital audition, Sara abandons dancing and moves in with her estranged father in Chicago. As one of her new school's only white kids, life's a little tough for her. Luckily, she makes friends fast, including the charming and handsome Derek (Thomas). As a romance ensues, issues of interracial love complicate matters as well as Derek's relationship with childhood buddies-turned-gangbangers. All the while, Sara is educated in the rudiments of hip-hop dancing in hopes that she'll once again pursue her ballerina dreams. The film works on a very simplistic level. Director Carter balances a bundle of subplots, dance scenes, and a hip soundtrack. The dancing is well shot although it's apparent that doubles were often substituted for the leads. The biggest problem is that the film's interpretation of interracial love is very one-sided. Stiles' character is only under fire from African-American teens, which makes it seem as if only blacks take objection to the relationship. By not showing both sides of such prejudices, the film comes across as being somewhat fake. Even more condescending is that Sara is portrayed as the understanding white girl with a heart of gold. Such hypocrisies are prevalent throughout, but the melange of secondary stories keeps the movie from tripping over its own feet. Not bad, but rather narrow-minded for a contemporary-teen film.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Screens Reviews
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 22, 2019

What If <i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
What If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
Putting the Austin-made seminal slasher back into context

Marc Savlov, March 22, 2019

More by Mike Emery
Video Reviews
Cry-Baby
Cry-Baby is definitely one of the better Fifties flashbacks, thanks to Waters' flair for visuals and a vivid memory of the Eisenhower era.

Aug. 3, 2001

Video Reviews
American Psycho
Mary Harron's film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel, American Psycho, frequently hits the mark, thanks to leading man Christian Bale.

June 22, 2001

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Save the Last Dance, Thomas Carter, Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Terry Kinney, Kerry Washington, Fredro Starr

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle