It’s a ridiculous and enjoyable experience. So if you’ve seen any dance movie before, you can probably plot every single story movement to this, but this is about a dancer (Paul Mercurio) who seems to be destined for greatness, but he has difficulties conforming to the “right” way of dancing. When his partner leaves him, he is forced to take a beginner (Tara Morice) under his wing to help win a competition. I think it is safe to say that the dance movie is one of the most predictable movie types out there; they all have the same character archetypes, and they all share the same basic plot. That said, they are a guilty pleasure of mine, as I get enjoyment out of the big dancing set pieces more often than not. Take it from me: if dance movies are your thing, this is one of the best ones out there.
This is the directorial debut of Baz Luhrmann, and you can totally see the raw elements in his origin that made him the director he is today; Strictly Ballroom features a number of his camera tricks that he has been utilizing for the majority of his career. He also directed one of my very favorites, Moulin Rouge, a film that I may have probably watched more than any other film total. It’s not hard to see where he gets his flamboyant roots, and you can see very similar camera work featured across his “Red Curtain” trilogy. You’ve got loud costumes that are only outdone by Priscilla, people who take dancing overly seriously, dancers that have moves for days and (most importantly), a director that knows how to shoot it. Really, that’s what matters most in a dance movie: capable dancers, and a director that can capture it without cutting it to pieces in the editing room. Baz is that kind of talent in a nutshell, and I love him for it.
If dance movies are your thing, hopefully you’re not like me and you’ve already watched this, as it truly is one of the better ones. It’s clichéd, sure, but that is the nature of the genre (seriously, this features the trope of an ugly girl with glasses and a ponytail that turns beautiful on a dime). It’s a template of a storyline, but the dance sequences are the reason you watch. It moves fast, and it is easy to root for the rebel underdog. I actually give this a very enthusiastic recommendation, and I will probably rewatch this again at some point in the future.
Strictly Ballroom (1992) ****
– Critic for Hire