Baz Luhrmann is a contemporary film god – at least I think so; Luhrmann makes films that manage to dazzle and thrill me and make me feel like a ten year old kid watching the movies all over again – granted a ten year old kid with vast film knowledge but still, the metaphor works. The very first film that Luhrmann dazzled me with was not his first film, I had never even heard of Strictly Ballroom before I saw Romeo + Juliet, but I finally found the film a few years ago and I have loved it ever since.
Strictly Ballroom is really the only “happy” movie in the Red Curtain Trilogy; the film follows Scott Hastings a rising ballroom star in the Australian dance world who wants to change things up. However, being unconventional is not acceptable and his partner breaks up with him and sends his dancing career into a spiral in what everyone assumed would be his year to take the championship. Scott’s parents run a dance studio where Fran takes classes and she boldly approaches Scott and offers herself as a new partner willing to dance his way. The couple keeps their partnership a secret fearing the disapproval of his family and mentors as she is still a beginner and her families overprotective nature.
Like all of Luhrmann’s films Strictly Ballroom is about love; in this case love of the dance and a love story between Scott and Fran; like every other film in the Red Curtain Trilogy Luhrmann uses bright and vivid colors to enhance the worlds in which his film takes place – this film really is partially told through the colors. The world of ballroom dancing is not a sedate one – it is filled with pulsating rhythms and colors & costumes to match.
What I really like about Strictly Ballroom is the main character Scott played by Paul Mercurio. The actor hasn’t gone on to do many well known projects since Strictly Ballroom but he manages to play Scott up both the arrogant and boy next door sides of Scott with equal ease and still make the character endearing which is quite a feat.
If you’re a fan of dancing, a fan of Luhrmann or just want to enjoy a fun couple of hours I highly recommend Strictly Ballroom.
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce
Scott Hastings: Paul Mercurio
Fran: Tara Morice
Barry Fife: Bill Hunter
Shirley Hastings: Pat Thomson
Liz Holt: Gia Carides
Doug Hastings: Barry Otto
Scott: Look, a beginner has no right to approach an Open Amateur.
Fran: Yeah, well an Open Amateur has no right to dance non-Federation steps, but you did, didn't you?
Scott: But that's different.
Fran: How is it different? You're just like the rest of them! You think you're different, but you're not, because you're just, you're just really scared! You're really scared to give someone new a go, because you think, you know, they might just be better than you are! Well, you're just pathetic, and you're gutless. You're a gutless wonder! Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias!