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Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/08/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Enjoyable, sweet-natured drama with a terrific cast and an intriguing script that cleverly recycles the short that the film was based on.

What's it all about?
Robert Carlyle stars as a recently widowed baker, who witnesses a car crash on a lonely road and discovers that the victim (John Goodman) had been rushing to complete a date he had made over 40 years ago.

Intending to speak to the woman Goodman had wanted to meet, he attends Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School and finds more than he had been looking for, particularly when he falls for one of the students (Marisa Tomei).

The Good
The film is co-written and directed by Randy Miller, based on a short film he made 15 years ago. The intriguingly structured script actually incorporates Miller's original short which appears as a series of flashbacks narrated by Goodman and starring Eldon Henson who also appears, 15 years later, as Carlyle's colleague in the bakery.

There's a vaguely dreamlike tone to the film which works well and the script maintains a careful balance between moments of humour and some quietly moving scenes.

The Great
Carlyle is superb in the lead role, striking just the right note for his character and really nailing his initial sense of emptiness and loss. Goodman makes a strong impression in a small but effective part and Marisa Tomei is as adorable as always.

The supporting cast are wonderful too - Mary Steenburgen is particularly good as the weirdly mannered Marienne Hotchkiss (Marilyn's daughter) and Donnie Wahlberg is superb as the best dancer in the class. There's also strong comic support from the likes of David Paymer, Adam Arkin and Sean Astin as the members of Carlyle's less than effective self-help group.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is ten times better than last year's Shall We Dance remake, thanks to strong performances, likeable characters and a cleverly structured script that is both funny and moving. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 22/10/2017 05:37

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