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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Strictly Ballroom
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Buena Vista 01/92 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG

Some of the most captivating movies are the ones which tell us to dance to the music within, no matter what the consequences. Take a chance, they say. You have nothing to lose. Fulfill your secret dreams. Strictly Ballroom is a feel-good movie about two daring souls who break new ground by not letting fear close them down.

Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) has been preparing for the Australian Ballroom Dance Federation Championships since the age of six. His mother (Pat Thompson), who teaches at Kendall's Dance Academy, has high hopes for her son. Scott's father Doug (Barry Otto), who danced in competitions years ago, respects the rebellious spirit of his son but has never told him so.

When Scott impulsively tries some new steps at a semifinals competition, he earns the ire of the dance federation president (Bill Hunter) whose philosophy is firm: "There are no new steps." Scott's partner Liz leaves him and teams up with an aging champ who gives the judges what they want.

Fran (Tara Morice), an unattractive and inexperienced dancer, yearns to dance with Scott. She is a soul mate who shares his eagerness to try new steps. Much to the dismay of Scott's manipulative mother and the local dance hall academy, they go off on their own to prepare a Latin routine for the year's most important competition. Fran's Spanish father (Antonio Vargas) and grandmother tutor them in flamenco dancing.

When Scott and Fran's magic moment comes, not even the unethical power plays of the federation president can stifle their creativity as it comes to the fore.

Writer and director Baz Luhrmann has fashioned an immensely entertaining film. Several humorous sequences satirize the competitive strategies of the ballroom dancers and the unethical power plays of the federation president. Best of all though, Strictly Ballroom celebrates the passion of soulful individuals who make the most of their creativity.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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