A maverick dancer risks his career by performing an unusual routine and sets out to succeed with a new partner.A maverick dancer risks his career by performing an unusual routine and sets out to succeed with a new partner.A maverick dancer risks his career by performing an unusual routine and sets out to succeed with a new partner.
Immediately you might be reminded of the hilarious Christopher Guest mockumentaries (Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, etc), but Baz gives this production an extra little push over the cliff. Unapologetically departing from reality, he hits us with a hyper-saturated visual feast, coupled with the fact that the story is set in the 1970s, taking us to the edge of absurdist fantasy. The presentation is almost claustrophobic, in that the entire story takes place on basically just 3 sets: the dance school, the girl's home, and the competition arena), and yet the magnificent use of colorful sets, elegant camera work, and large spaces makes us feel like we're in some sort of bizarre Aussie Wonderland. That's the Terry Gilliam (Brazil) part.
And if that blend isn't bizarre enough, get this. The plot itself is rooted in a very cute John Hughes-ish teen rebel story (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller), thus appealing to our inner misfit youth. The combination is a real treat, and if any of these elements interest you, I guarantee you'll have a wild ride.
The dancing and choreography is absolutely stunning. Paul Mercurio ("Scott") definitely has moves that would make Fred Astaire tip his top hat, and Baz allows for a few long segments so we can take it all in. At the same time, the dance segments don't interrupt the pacing and flow of the story. Somehow it all blends together seamlessly. I have to say, dance, comedy and surrealism is an unlikely mix, but it comes together brilliantly. That's something I haven't seen since the days of Jerry Lewis directing.
"Strictly Ballroom" is one of the most entertaining and engaging movies about dancing I've ever seen. If you enjoy this flick, definitely check out "Razzle Dazzle", another hilarious Aussie dancecom, which also features the lovely Tara Morice ("Fran") but in a role I guarantee you wouldn't recognize her in if I hadn't told you.
- Oct 19, 2017