Australian director Baz Luhrman's first film takes satirical potshots at an easy target, the world of competitive ballroom dancing, adding a dash of John Waters-style camp into the mix for extra effect. Welcome to STRICTLY BALLROOM, a world of deeply regimented dancing competition (hence
the title, implying no deviations from set form) that mirrors the rigid social order of the Warataw (southern Australia) districts.
Competition is keen, especially between Kim Rallings (John Hannan), a drunken, platinumed lothario, and Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio), the earnest, handsome, self-absorbed, rising-star son of dance school owners. When Scott departs from the time-honored formula during a samba competition, he
causes a furor among the powers-that-be of the Dance Federation: Scott's coach, Les Kendall (Peter Whitford); corrupt Federation president, Barry Fife (Bill Hunter); and Scott's own parents, Shirley and Doug Hastings (Pat Thomson, Barry Otto). Scott's ambitious partner Liz (Gia Carrides) deserts
him, and Scott joins forces with ugly duckling newcomer Fran (Tara Morice). Is it a surprise that she blossoms into a impassioned and seductive dancer, or that Scott ignores every obstacle and succeeds in doing things his own way?
One would have to be heartless not to be engaged by STRICTLY BALLROOM's romantic, dewy sentiment, but the predictable plot is difficult to bear, as are the broad characterizations. Some spirited performances breathe life into the limp central idea, and BALLROOM's cast demonstrates genuine dance
talent; costume designer Angus Strathie and choreographer John "Cha Cha" O'Connell appear to have enjoyed their work, and Luhrman has given the entire enterprise his loving, detailed attention--it looks terrific.
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG
- Review: Australian director Baz Luhrman's first film takes satirical potshots at an easy target, the world of competitive ballroom dancing, adding a dash of John Waters-style camp into the mix for extra effect. Welcome to STRICTLY BALLROOM, a world of deeply regim… (more)