Romance Off the Shelf: Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Strictly Ballroom is strictly entertaining.
Baz Luhrmann’s first role behind the camera suitably dealt with a relationship between a novice and a professional, potentially metaphoric of his unease with breaking into the world of film.  Strictly Ballroom is a tale of professional Australian ballroom dancer Scott Hastings, who’s adventurous and creative dance routines garner disapproval from industry judges.

I believe this film deserves more credit than the word of mouth it has gotten from my friends and family. I actually only watched this film because I had to submit an assignment based on it, but I am glad to have had the opportunity to see it.

Paul Mercurio stars as Scott Hastings, a talented up and coming who prefers to create his own routines rather than play by the rules. This aggravates his partner Liz (Gia Carides), who abandons him in favour of someone more reliable. Needing a partner to compete the Pan Pacific Grand Prix, Scott reluctantly gives the novice Fran (Tara Morice) an opportunity to convince him of her talent, and secure his partnership.

The journey Scott and Fran follow is a metaphoric compilation of the Ugly Duckling and Cinderella clichés. Scott is the charming and handsome swan, meanwhile Fran is the ugly Cinderella character, aspiring on the sidelines and working to overcome circumstantial setbacks. The chemistry between these polar opposites was convincing, and I place particular emphasis on the rooftop practice scene by the Coke sign. Here you can catch the first glimpse of a deeper relationship developing.

Scott Hastings (Mercurio) and Fran (Morice)

A supporting acting highlight was Gia Carides as Liz Holt. She was just a plain diva, but delivered loads of laughs, complementing the main cast. Pat Thompson as Shirley Hastings, the restrictive and interfering mother of Scott Hastings, was also a commendable performance. Her disarray over her sons stray from the rules is quite comic, and is edited very well into the opening scene.

In conclusion Strictly Ballroom is an entertaining film. I enjoyed the comedy, drama and romance, and could probably re-watch the film at a later date. This is one to take off the shelf if you have not done so already.

Check out this pretty dated trailer below: