Polari: 'Five Dances'
Polari kicks off with a touching, thoughtful, and beautiful opener.
By David Estlund, 10:00AM, Thu. Oct. 17
Five Dances understands whitespace, cleverly balancing exposition, dialogue, movement, and silence.
Alan Brown's Five Dances manages to be thoughtful without becoming tedious, touching without becoming either gut-wrenching or cloying, and tremendously intimate even though many of the details of the characters' pasts, presents, and futures remain just out of reach. Large swaths of the film consist of nothing but dance rehearsal which, given context by preceding scenes, illustrates and reinforces the narrative in a novel way. The interplay between the dancers' changing relationships and their performance, and the experiences expressed in the choreography itself provide a layered framework for interpreting those sparse facts that we pick up about the dynamics at play.
The dynamics are definitely at the center here, and this film owes great credit not only to beautiful cinematography, but to a surprisingly strong ensemble cast (especially scenes between lead Ryan Steele's new kid in town Chip and Catherine Miller's tender Katie). When watching a film that works hard to avoid exposition, we seek out physical cues, and being visual, communicative creatures, we will always find them, whether intended or not. The great accomplishment of this film is to grab those cues and present them to us with a natural pacing and without, for the most part, making us feel clobbered by the emotion machine.
The Polari Film Festival runs Oct. 16-20 at the Stateside at the Paramount, Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, the Marchesa Hall & Theatre, Studio 4D at UT, and Violet Crown Cinema, plus installation screenings at the Polari offices on the weekend. See www.polarifest.com for full schedule and ticket info, and read our full Polari preview here.