Flashdance Blu-ray Review
With Flashdance, Beals gives a memorable performance that jump-started her career.
Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson produced some of the best films of the 1980s including Beverly Hills Cop and, arguably their most profitable film, Top Gun. However, their first producing collaboration came in 1983 when they worked on the critically panned but box office hit, Flashdance. Starring Jennifer Beals (Swamp Thing) in her feature film debut and Michael Nouri (The Hidden), the film was directed by Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction) and offered audiences Academy Award-winning music as well as a whole new fashion trend. It was influential on teenagers of the time so it was an obvious choice for one of the films in the Paramount Presents series.
Eighteen-year-old Alexandra "Alex" Owens (Beals) lives a dual life. By day she is a welder at a steel mill in Pittsburgh. By night, she is a sensual dancer with dreams of becoming a ballerina at the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance. Despite any formal training, she is encouraged by her mentor, retired ballerina, Hannah (Lilia Skala; Lilies of the Field) to apply. One night, as she is dancing at the club she catches the eye of Nick Hurley (Nouri) who is shocked and pleased to find out she works for him as a welder.
As Nick pursues Alex she refuses to date him. However, one night after she and her friend are beaten up by men who work for Johnny C (Lee Ving; Clue), owner of the local strip club, Nick comes to their rescue and he and Alex become romantically involved. When Alex gets an audition at the Conservatory she is excited to tell Nick until she discovers that Nick used his influence with the Arts Council to secure her the audition despite her lack of training. Vowing not to go to the audition Alex as a change of heart after Hannah passes away. Despite her nerves, Alex dances for the judges introducing them to a whole other style of music and dance including breakdancing.
Beals gives a memorable performance that jumpstarted her career. Nouri didn't seem to have the same professional trajectory but he will always be remembered for the film. Uncredited at the time, French dancer Marine Jahan (Streets of Fire) was the dance double for Beals making all of those iconic moves we know by heart. The supporting cast is good but dancer Cynthia Rhodes stands out and later played the role of Penny in Dirty Dancing.
While there are a few small "glitches", the 1080p video quality, for the most part, is an improvement over previously released versions. Though the sets are dreary and the weather is gloomy, the details can still be seen clearly. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is somewhat frontloaded with elements of surround sound. Of course, the iconic soundtrack shows some boosting especially in the bass which only serves to enhance the music. There are three extras on this Blu-ray though some of the material seems to have been previously released. They include: Filmmaker Focus: Director Adrian Lyne On Flashdance, The Look Of Flashdance, and Releasing The Flashdance Phenomenon. The extras offer about thirty minutes' worth of content.
Let's face it, Flashdance was not a great film. The script was cheesy and the story was completely unrealistic from beginning to end. However, it won an Oscar for best original song and was nominated for three others, became a success at the box office, and started a fashion trend with Alex's oversized cut up sweater. It made a star of Beals and solidified the working relationship between Bruckheimer and Simpson.
While thirty-seven years later I'm sure some of the sentiments are outdated, the music would still get people up and dancing and those that remember it would happily watch it again.
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