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The Dance

average rating is 2 out of 5


Alasdair MacRae


Posted on:

Jun 18, 2022

Film Reviews
The Dance
Directed by:
Sarah Jayne Portelli
Written by:
Ivan Malekin
John McCullough, Lara Deam

After stumbling in and catching her Dad (John McCullough) dancing clumsily as he prepares to start dating again, Emma (Laura Deam) decides to confront her father about the effect his coming out as gay has had on both her and her mother.


In the opening two minutes of this short, the gentle cringe and humour of the awkward social parlance of dancing seem to be a cute parallel for finding one’s own rhythms in a new and unfamiliar social circumstance. The mild discomfort felt in observing the father, Jack, dancing continues into the small talk between him and his adult daughter. There are clearly some unresolved issues between the pair. Then, all of a sudden a non-diegetic piano piece begins to play and Emma launches into a melodramatic outburst about her father’s neglect of his family. This sledgehammers the early nuance into oblivion, and frankly, the tone never recovers.


It is wholly fair that although it is a blameless situation, there may be some complicated feelings arising in Emma over the polar opposite ways her parents have reacted to her father’s coming out. Her father has the excitement of exploring a newly awakened self, although it appears to her, to be at the expense of her mother, who seems to have shrunk into isolation and despair. Whilst it is clear that her reaction is meant to be an emotional and irrational one, which she eventually recognises too, the way that it is portrayed on screen feels wholly contrived. All emotion is drained from the film the moment the forced music begins and the remaining run time is indistinguishable from an episode of Hollyoaks.


The early promise of The Dance is rudely drowned out by melodrama. The difficult and complicated feelings it tries to raise are made obvious but not conveyed in a way that can be received emotionally.

About the Film Critic
Alasdair MacRae
Alasdair MacRae
LGBTQ+, Short Film
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