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Dancing Queens (2021) Film Review


Directed by: #HelenaBergström


A year and a half after losing her mother, young aspiring dancer Dylan Pettersson (Nutley disguises herself as a man to perform at the struggling drag club Queens, after her natural talents are accidentally discovered by the club’s star dancer and choreographer, Victor (Quinones).

Dancing Queens (2021) is a Swedish comedy/drama Netflix original, released on the streaming service June 3rd and currently appears to be receiving mixed reviews from critics and audiences. The film takes a unique and refreshing subject matter by focusing on a group of drag queens and takes a slow, meandering pace to tell its story with a surprising lack of attention given to many of the queer characters. The film begins strongly with our introduction to the likeable, chirpy lead and her tragic loss of her mother combined with her supportive family and passion for disco dancing making her instantly endearing and a strong underdog character to root for. However, once she becomes acquainted with the drag group, the pacing does begin to slow and becomes choppy, with a noticeable lack of development given to her co-stars.

Young female lead, Dylan, looks directly into the camera with a split personality on display as her ordinary self and the drag persona she takes on when performing her dances.
Dancing Queens (2021) film poster

Despite successfully building an optimistic tone with a positive message of following one’s dreams and never giving up, the film does flounder with many clichés still present despite all the heart it has to offer. For example, when Dylan’s true gender identity is discovered, she is briefly cast out of the group before they quickly reconcile with her and she eventually manages to become the professional dancer she always dreamt of after one successful audition. The big drag performance also features the uplifting, yet overplayed song ‘I Will Survive’, which does cause the drama to feel rather stale and unearned as the queer characters appear to have taken a backseat in favour of the lead’s journey. There are also some underdeveloped romantic subplots woven throughout which do not add much to the story and could have been explored more for a greater emotional impact.

Although the movie does have its flaws, there are still redeeming qualities which result in an entertaining, enjoyable and moving watch. Molly Nutley gives a fantastically nuanced, standout performance as 23 year-old Dylan, causing her to feel grounded and relatable as a young woman trying to find that driving force in her life to move on from the death of her mum. All of the dance sequences are very well choreographed, with our first introduction to Dylan’s talent demonstrated through an effective montage of her transcending her raw grief into a charged dance routine, which is intercut with the warm memories of her mother. There is also a very good scene where she breaks down in tears when speaking about her family and mother to her housekeeper, which is played authentically by Nutley and emphasises the core theme of grief and loss in the narrative.

Additionally, despite featuring an arguably mixed choice in pop music, the film does have a peaceful orchestral score which matches the scenic, natural setting of Dylan’s small hometown and the hopeful tone of the story very well. The score does elevate many scenes and involves viewers in the characters’ journeys nicely.

Overall, Dancing Queens is a film which does have its heart set in the right place, but falls short in delivering on its advertising as a predominantly queer related narrative. It still has admirable elements, with a good cast and a wonderful lead performance, nice direction and a tranquil score, but some factors of the story unfortunately let it down.


Dancing Queens (2021) Trailer:


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