In the spring, the full moon shines for the warrior who has lost his way. Coyote is the spirit that leads back to life. If he follows the coyote when the moon is full, the warrior will see the path once more...
John G. Avildsen
Jean-Claude Van Damme,
Bobby Stano had everything going for him. Fresh out of high school, he was signed to the majors, had a beautiful girlfriend, everything was looking up. That is, until he and his friends get... See full summary »
I saw this movie when it first came out (1978). It was a catastrophe -- critically and commercially -- at that time and time has not been kind to it. It's a mark of how badly it failed that it never was even released for VIDEO, let alone DVD, despite the director (John Avildson of "Rocky" fame), Paul Sorvino and some
other good character actors.
Sorvino plays a NYC journalist who seems roughly modeled on TV's Columbo --
he's scruffy, middle-aged and babbles on and on in a way that I think is meant to be eccentric and charming, but actually comes off as purely annoying. He's an "everyman" figure who falls in love with a seriously ill ballerina. I wonder where the concept of the ballerina as the supreme symbol of femininity comes from -- real life ballet dancers are ATHELETES, not simpering fashion models and
injury and disability go hand-in-hand with their art form -- but here it is handled in the lamest and most embarrassing way imaginable.
Anne Ditchburn (Sarah), a real life Canadian dancer who never acted before (or again and you can understand why) has the world's strangest medical condition -- it's something vaguely inexplicable that has to do with her...uh...groin. Or maybe more accurately her thigh muscles, I don't know. We aren't told much, but she's clearly in a lot of pain when she dances, and her dancing bizarrely
includes a lot of splits and arabesques and stuff where she wraps her thighs
around other dancers. So it hurts. She needs some kind of operation but then
she probably won't be able to dance -- not this thigh wrapping stuff anyways -- so she is soldering on through the pain.
That's about it for the plot. She insists on dancing in the "big performance" she is scheduled for, despite the pain, and along the way falls in love (very
improbably) with big, beefy, talkative Paul Sorvino. Now, I want to say that I generally LOVE off-beat romances with oddball characters ("Harold and Maude"
is about my favorite movie of all time) and that's probably why I went to see "Slow Dancing" originally.
But the concept just curls up and suffers a slow death in this badly written, badly directed and badly acted film. There is no chemistry at all between Sorvino and Ditchburn. He really does seem to old for her and the contrast between her tiny, fit body and his big paunchy one is just awkward and even grotesque. There are no actual sex scenes, but you can't help thinking in your mind what they would look like together and...it would be pretty gross.
The worst of it is that Sarah's medical condition (the...uh...groin problem) can't help but have sexual connotations, although none are mentioned, because the
exact part of her body affected would be directly involved in sexual intercourse. You keep thinking "hmmm...he's really a big guy, and she's a tiny little thing who can't open her legs..." and any hope that the movie will be seen as touching or moving or whatever without making you break into helpless laughter is totally lost.
Surely this can't have been the effect the director or screenwriters were going for -- the movie plays as if it's meant to be a quirky but deeply moving romance. Why oh why didn't they make her injury something less awkward, like arthritic knees or a foot injury (far more common amongst dancers and very believable)? Almost any other medical problem would have worked better here.
Like the video companies who had no interest in putting this film on tape, I am puzzled as to who the heck would ever want to view this. Maybe a die hard Paul Sorvino fan? I can't honestly recommend this to anybody else, unless you are a film student wanting a case study example of WHAT NOT TO DO when making
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