DIY Cannes 2013: Strictly Ballroom

sb_142PaulMercurioTo stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way? 

Movie #5: Strictly Ballroom

Director: Baz Luhrmann

His Cannes 2013 Movie: The Great Gatsby

I have a 16 year old cousin and the only thing she can talk about right now is how much she loves The Great Gatsby soundtrack and how she wants to be Lana Del Ray when she grows up. She’s been sick so to cheer her up, I thought I would do the only thing I know how to do and recommend a movie. So I went to her house and we watched Strictly Ballroom, the movie that started it all for Baz.

And somehow Baz seems almost unrecognizable as a filmmaker between the two. Where The Great Gatsby is only polish and finishings with no real attachment, Strictly Ballroom is under art directed, under finished, and kind of cheesy. But somehow that’s all part of the charm. It all works. There is so much real love and emotion in the bones of this movie that all of the elements that stray towards camp or B-movie territory are just written off as incredibly earnest. And one thing we do not see enough today is earnestness (Exhibit A: Silver Linings Playbook dance scenes).

The plot is the same as every other dance movie or movie that ends with a dance. Ugly Girl likes Boy. Boy gives Girl a chance. Girl takes off glasses and she’s beautiful. There is a big misunderstanding where Girl thinks Boy is insincere. Boy wins Girl back with a big gesture. Strictly Ballroom just does it with the weirdest supporting cast ever assembled. While I would argue that the leads Scott and Fran (what a great ugly turns pretty girl name) are given so much life by Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice. But Scott’s mother Shirley steals things from the first minute, Scott’s father Doug steals things with his kooky spotlight dance numbers, and Barry Fife is adance villain for the ages. 

I hope Strictly Ballroom gets remembered because it has the ability to age well. It’s utter sincerity in its message gives it more strength and power than anything else. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I say that the last scene of the movie involves everyone dancing. And that’s all you want to do when the movie is done – dance. 



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