Strictly Ballroom (1992)

This film was selected for a couple of reasons. In part, because Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby was in theatres and in part because we knew both of us would be miles apart in our review so it was a good lead in for our Cloud and Silver Lining personalites.

Cheryl’s thoughts:

Having seen and not loved other Baz Lurhmann films, I did not have very high expectations for Strictly Ballroom. Those low expectations were not exceeded. Initially, I was pretty excited because it started out with a documentary feel and there were crazy bejewelled costumes everywhere and I was hoping for Spinal Tap… I did not get that.

What I found inside was the typical underdog sports tale — Bad News Bears, Rudy, Seabiscuit, take your pick — with a dash of Pretty in Pink wrapped in glitter. Oh, and throw in a little bit of mis-matched, star-crossed-leads (less Romeo and Juliet, more Beverly Hills Cop) to up the tension on screen and there you have it.

Strictly Ballroom was entirely too melodramatic for my taste, taking over the top to new heights. Until Luhrmann’s next film Romeo + Juliet, which pushed those heights even further

Alynda’s thoughts:

There was a time when ballroom dance was only seen on PBS, and there were no quasi-celebrities vying for another 15 minutes of fame and a mirror-ball trophy. But in 1992, Baz Luhrman gave us “Strictly Ballroom”, a romantic comedy set in the world of Australian ballroom dance competition. It turns out that he was following the instruction to write what you know: his mother was a ballroom dance teacher and he had studied ballroom dance as a child! I consider this movie to be one of the first of those quirky Australian comedies of the early 1990’s, like “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, And “Muriel’s Wedding”.

I truly love this movie-it is everything you want from a good date: charming, funny, and attractive. It’s an ugly duckling story, and also encourages you to follow your dreams, no matter what others may think. All presented in a fluffy, bejewelled, and twinkly costume. Adapted from his own play, this movie really shows the genesis of what, to me, is Luhrman’s particular style: the music is as much a part of the narrative as the lines, and spectacle is par for the course. This is not a film of deep thought, but it is a lot of fun.