Strictly Ballroom

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A Netflix streamer (which they do not offer, inexplicably, on DVD). For some reason, we didn't connect with this 1992 movie until now. And it hit all the right notes for me. (Can't believe the relatively mediocre IMDB rating.)

I notice that it was Baz Luhrmann's first effort as a screenwriter and director. He went on to other, better-known projects like Moulin Rouge! and the Leonardo DiCaprio version of The Great Gatsby.

But this is a relatively small movie, set inside the cutthroat world of … Australian competitive ballroom dancing! Young Scott is on his way to winning the big prize, but he's frustrating his handlers, his mom, and the (corrupt and stodgy) powers-that-be with his free-spirited dance moves. His dance partner is also dismissive, because she sees being paired with Scott as her shot at the Big Time! Scott feels a lot of pressure to conform to what everyone expects.

But lurking in the shadows is Fran, an admirer from afar. Glasses and a poor complexion make her an unlikely dance star, she's just a beginner, but Scott notices something about her. And the unlikely partnership takes shape. It helps that she takes off her glasses and her skin seems to clear up too.

You can probably sketch out the rest of the plot yourself. But there's a fantastic side trip when Scott travels to the Wrong Side of the Tracks to encounter Fran's Spanish immigrant family. And they turn out to be pretty good dancers themselves.