Thursday, January 06, 2011

Movie review – “Strictly Ballroom” (1992) ****1/2

This still holds up very well – sure, Paul Mercurio’s acting isn’t the best, but he has presence and charisma, and can dance. Plus he does most of his scenes with Tara Morice, who can act. The main glory of this is it’s design: dance school halls with a coke sign and hills hoist on top, dingy suburban backyards, clubs with poker machines. The script is also very good, Australia taking Hollywood head-on and matching it: a hero struggling against the odds, underlying great fears for all it’s characters, a well motivated villain (if someone dances non-approved steps you can’t teach them), a Cinderella romance, the depth of Mercurio’s parent’s suffering, a large feel-good finale. It doesn’t sacrifice it’s Australian-ness – the dialogue is a delight, and the story could easily be about cricket or hockey or any other competitive event. It’s great fun to see Todd McKenney and Sonia Kruger dancing with each other, and ‘Love is in the Air’ is a perfect theme song.

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