"Dance, when you're broken open. / Dance if you've torn the bandage off. / Dance in the middle of the fighting. / Dance in your blood. / Dance when you're perfectly free." This poem by the Sufi poet Rumi perfectly expresses the powerful effects of orchestrated or spontaneous movement. It is no wonder that indigenous peoples dance as a way of praying.
Bootmen is a raucous and rowdy Australian film directed by Dein Perry that will send you from the theatre deliciously happy with a genuine smile on your face. Sean Okden (Adam Garcia) has grown up in the Australian industrial city of Newcastle. He lives with his brother Mitch (Sam Worthington) and their working-class father (Richard Carter), who is usually either angry or depressed. A life of working in a steel mill has taken the spirit out of him.
While Mitch struggles with a wrong-headed project he hopes will lead to his own business, Sean yearns to find a way beyond the fate of his father. Since they were young, both boys have attended a tap dance school run by Walter (William Zappa). Sean is singled out and wins a chance to dance in a chorus line in Sydney. But this means he must interrupt his romantic relationship with Linda (Sophie Lee), a hairdresser.
His dreams in Sydney don't pan out and Sean returns home to find out that his brother has gone to bed with Linda. In order to take his mind off the hurt he feels, this go-getter starts his own tap group. The Bootmen, as they decide to call themselves, wind up staging a benefit for their recently fired steel mill comrades.
Adam Garcia puts in an astonishingly convincing performance as Sean, an energetic young man who uses his tap dancing skills to therapeutically work through his feelings of doubt, fear, jealousy, and anger. The choreography of the rehearsals and the benefit performance is creative to the max with Sean and his three buddies moving wildly to rock music as they stomp their boots on the factory floor. In the end, the show they stage for the people in their community is an act of prayer that celebrates their solidarity in the face of an uncertain future. As Rumi put it, with dance they show they're "perfectly free."