Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Strictly Ballroom, a movie

Last night's movie: Strictly Ballroom. Wow - what a fun watch it was!

My very first impression was that it was by the same director as Best In Show, Christopher Guest, because it has that mockumentary feeling. The various characters are being interviewed about Scott, a young Australian ballroom dancer who is feeling rebellious and wants to use some of his own steps in his dances - steps that aren't Strictly Ballroom. His parents run a dance academy and all of the characters are as invested in competitive ballroom dancing as the Best In Show folks are in dog shows - that is to say, beyond obsessive.

The costumes, the hair, the personalities - way over the top, which made it that much more fun. When Scott dances, it's incredible. When the others dance, you laugh out loud because although they are good, they're so fake! But Scott does some incredible not-strictly-ballroom dancing in a competition, and his partner leaves him.

It's all about winning the big local competition. Without a partner, Scott has no chance - so they audition dancers (this smacked of the auditions in Waiting For Guffman). Meanwhile, ugly duckling novice dancer Fran approaches him in the studio after hours and offers to dance with him. She's not very experienced, but she has a secret - she's Hispanic (not sure of her background, but her parents speak Spanish) and her father is a very good Latin dancer. Fran and Scott practice every day after hours, without anyone knowing, and one day he walks her home and gets challenged by her papa to dance the Paso Doble at a party. When everyone at the party laughs at his attempt, papa and grandma show Scott how it's done - and then stay up all night teaching him.

OK, nothing else in this movie is exactly realistic, but the growing affection between Scott and Fran is so touching and real. He tells her at one point that the love they must show dancing the Rhumba, the "Dance of Love", is only pretend, but you can see it in their eyes that it's growing into something more.

When the pre-competition finals come along, we learn that one of the men is retiring from one of the top couples (to devote more time to his landscaping career - LOL!) leaving a top, experienced female to be Scott's partner. He is torn - because he really does want to win, and this dancer is much more likely to help him do that. But he also feels a loyalty to Fran who has spent so much time working on their dance. In the end, he feels he can't let himself and his parents down by risking the championship, and chooses the other woman.

Of course, that isn't the end - and there's about 4 other plot lines going on (soooo confusing). Fran and Scott were about the cutest couple I've seen in a movie in a long time - his dancing was truly wonderful, but his face - what a wonderful face! His affection for Fran was so blatant, and her change from ugly duckling to Latin dancer was subtle and genuine.

4 stars for some laugh out loud moments and the wonderful love story (did I mention it's an Australian film?)

No comments: