Weekend Movie – Strictly Ballroom

Imagine how life for the Australian Ballroom dancer Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) turns upside down when he dares to dance his own steps at a competition. Scott’s dance partner Liz Holt (Gia Carides) is outraged by his attempt to not dance strictly ballroom and leaves him for his rival Ken Railings (John Hannan), whose partner Pam Short (Kerry Shrimpton) coincidentally broke both of her legs in a car accident. To add to the big hair, frozen smile, tacky dress drama, the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship is just around the corner. Scott’s mum Shirley (Pat Thomson), who runs a ballroom dancing studio, is eager to find a new partner for her son. Little does she know, that Scott started practicing secretly with Fran (Tara Morice), a grey mouse, who takes classes at the studio.

We all know from Dirty Dancing that wanting to dance your own steps leads to nothing but trouble. Turns out, Scott’s dad Doug (Barry Otto) used to dance some pretty wild steps, too, which put his marriage on the rocks a long time ago. Responsible for maintenance shores, Doug is nothing but a quiet accessory, while Shirley runs the studio. Luckily, Doug is slowly coming back to life, through witnessing Fran and Scott dance.

Soon Scott realizes Fran’s potential and starts to practice with her on a regular basis. Magically, her hair gets less frizzy, her skin looks nicer, occasionally the glasses come off and Fran seems a lot less frumpy… Her family slowly accepts Scott and starts teaching him Pasodoble. From the heart!

Just after the couple kissed for the first time, Australian Dancing Federation President Barry Five (Bill Hunter) twists the truth and is able to pressure Scott to dance with Liz and win the Grand Prix for the sake of his father. It is about dancing strictly ballroom afterwards. Liz and Scott start training together and Fran is devastated. On the night of the Championship Scott learns the truth about what had happened all these years ago and decides to dance his steps with Fran.

Will the music get cut off?

Will they dance anyways?

Will the crowd join in?

Will they kiss?

Baz Luhrmann adapted his play Strictly Ballroom for the big screen. It was the first of The Red Curtain Trilogy; followed by Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. Strictly Ballroom was accepted at Cannes Film Festival, were it is said to have received 15 minutes of standing ovations after the first public screening and it won in the category of Award Of The Youth (Foreign Film). It is one of the most successful Australian movies of all time. It is quirky and lovely and very colorful. Luhrmann was warming up for Moulin Rouge. Although Strictly Ballroom is a very cheesy movie, it is still a very bearable level of kitsch.

Why we love it: Great transformation from ugly duckling to beautiful swan.

Recommended for: if you wished, Dirty Dancing was just a bit more colorful or over the top, this one is for you!

(Musical, romance)
M&A Productions, 1992 AUS
Paul Mercurio as Scott Hastings
Tara Morice as Fran
Bill Hunter as Barry Fife
Pat Thomson as Shirley Hastings
Gia Carides as Liz Holt
Barry Otto as Doug Hastings
Kerry Shrimpton as Pam Short
“The Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss II
Cover Versions of
“Love is in the Air” by John Paul Young
“Time After Time” by Mark Williams and Tara Morice

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