The reviews on Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks are deservedly mixed, and The Boy and I were semi-reluctant viewers of this tale of an old lady who takes dance lessons from a con man. But not all 2-star movies are 2-star movies for the same reasons.
The worst, of course, might be called the staid 2-starrers. They plod along with no particular aspiration, leaving you vaguely unsatisfied, even if you found them largely unobjectionable. Then there are the ones that have aspects that are very good, or even brilliant, which come crashing against some technical failure or other, which can be frustrating but at least interesting and engaging, when they’re not driving you nuts.
Six Dance Lessons is the latter sort of film. It’s in such a panic to be a movie that makes an Important Social Statement, it trips all over itself in the beginning, and then ends with the subtlety of a political commercial.
In between, though, there are some moments of earned emotion payoff, as Gena Rowlands and Cheyenne Jackson spar and get to know each other. These parts were really good. I mean, the acting is good all the way through, enough so that, in the beginning, when the writing/direction rushes you through the early parts of their relationship, you can still be won over.
But in the middle, the writing calms down a bit, and the characters (now more comfortable with each other) are allowed to relate in a more natural way. This, unfortunately, sets you up for the climax, which (despite all evidence to the contrary) indicates the movie doesn’t really take place in 2014. Or the writer wasn’t aware that Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973. Or more likely this was written a while back.
I’m struggling here, but not as much as writer Richard Alfieri (The Sisters) had to to get in his one-two yay-Roe/yay-gay-marriage punch.
There’s some awful bigotry in it, as well. There’s a half-hearted pointing out of said bigotry but you can tell the writer and director feel it’s justified bigotry, which is how everyone feels about their own prejudices, of course.
Despite all this, we kind of liked it, The Boy more than I, but I notice he’s less sensitive to clunky character development. But we both felt the better story was subordinated to shoehorn the message in.
I don’t want to blame director Arthur Allan Seidelman, king of the After School Special, for this. But he seems the likely culprit.
Rita Moreno, Jackie Weaver and Julian Sands have nice supporting roles.
If you’re completely sympatico or reasonably thick-skinned it’s worth checking out.