Rated PG-13, 121 min. Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Starring Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter.
Strictly Ballroom is shamelessly manipulative, blatantly derivative, and hopelessly maudlin. So why did I love this movie so much? Possibly because it has the gall to be all those things without blushing. Although made in Australia, Strictly Ballroom takes its cues from American pop culture; it emulates Saturday Night Fever, Rocky, Dirty Dancing, and other Hollywood movies in which the underdog must prove himself to a world that doesn't understand what compels him. Of course, everyone pressures him to conform but it's not until he finds his Cinderella, a shy and awkward young girl who understands his feelings, that he actually dares to make his dream come true. Metaphorically speaking, Strictly Ballroom celebrates individuality over homogeneity; for all its melodramatic flourishes and grotesque exaggerations, it never mocks the hero's dream of self-expression.