It's hard to believe that the goofily funny, charmingly romantic, and gloriously, outrageously Australian Strictly Ballroom was Baz Luhrmann's first film. To hear from the DVD extras, it was a wonder that it got made at all, especially when early critics completely savaged the film. But once audience's got ahold of this feel-good movie, it became a word-of-mouth hit. I just adore this film.
Would be champion ballroom dancer Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) stubbornly refuses to play by the rules. If he were to just follow the regulation steps, he and his partner would have a trophy in hand! But, dammit, he just wants to add some of his own flair... he just wants to dance, is that so wrong?
His mother, manager, and dance partner are at wit's end when Scott throws another competition with his personalized moves... but it turns out that his perfect match may have been dancing in the same studio the whole time. Enter Fran (Tara Morice), the studio's ugly-duckling (you know, "ugly" in the movie-way, with frizzy hair and thick glasses). In the off hours, she insists that Scott give her a chance while he is auditioning new dance partners for the looming Pan Pacific competition.
Do you think Fran will blossom before Scott's eyes? Do you think Scott will learn something about dancing from the heart, from Fran's earthy immigrant family? Do you think the two will fall in love? Girl, you know it's true!
Strictly Ballroom has charm to spare. Paul Mercurio's Scott could have been a pretentious pretty-boy prig in another film, but he is sweet and open to giving Fran a shot. Tara Morice's Fran is only bumbling on the outset, and proves a worthy match for Scott. And when the two of them click? It shows just how sexy and sensual dancing can really be! And this is one of those movies that will change the way you listen to classic pop hits by Cyndi Lauper ("Time After Time") and John Paul Young... Love is indeed in the air in this wonderful crowd-pleaser.
Strictly Ballroom's latest Special Edition just adds a new interview with Baz Luhrmann to name drop the hugely successful "Dancing With the Stars" TV show. But in reality, the stage-to-screen saga of how Strictly Ballroom got made in the first place it truly fascinating. It was a labor of love, and against all odds it became an internationally beloved hit.