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The Road Dance


‘…if you can handle the subject, then The Road Dance has enough good acting and narrative energy to make for a fairly gripping entertainment…’

On the festival circuit, audience awards are a tricky business; I’ve stood and watched in astonishment as a film director brazenly stuffed their own hand-written ballots into ballot-boxes to ensure they won some kind of trophy. But it’s easy to see why writer/director Richie Adams carried off the audience award on merit at last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival; it’s an old-fashioned Scottish drama about a remote Hebridean community that should appeal to those who seek a blast of period intrigue in a Grassic Gibbon style

Based on a novel by Scottish television newsreader and journalist John Mackay, The Road Dance is set during World War One, and centres on Kirsty Macleod (Hermione Corfield), a young woman who has been encouraged to imagine local boy Iain Ban (Tom Byrne) as a potential suitor. But Kirsty has eyes for Murdo MacAuley (Will Fletcher), who shares her love of literature, but both men are called away to fight overseas in a devastating blow to the community. A road dance is organised to say goodbye to the soldiers, but Kirsty is attacked later the same night…

A handsome production, The Road Dance does well with the isolated feel of the community, and the story moves with the clip of a novel adaptation; this narrative plays out more like a murder mystery than a coming of age drama, and it works better than the recent Sunset Song adaptation. But not all the details convince; surely the most blithe parent, having seen their son go off to war, shouldn’t be enthused when an unexpected telegram arrives on their doorstep. This community is supposed to be sheltered, but it’s hard to imagine anyone so free of expectation. The use of rape as a key plot point needs very careful handling, and it similarly stretches credulity that Kirsty and her community seem so naïve about potential dangers; it’s also requires trigger warnings that while Adams’ depiction of the attack is handled with care, brief fragments of the assault are then edited into the remainder of the story.

Generally well acted and produced, The Road Dance will play well to those who are bought in to the adult nature of the story; there’s plenty of post-watershed tv dramas that cover this kind of material in unsentimental style. If you can handle the subject, then The Road Dance has enough good acting and narrative energy to make for a fairly gripping entertainment, even if the uncovering of the assailant doesn’t quite providing a satisying resolution to the problems that poor Kirsty has to face.


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  1. Saw the trailer for Road Dance ages ago. Can’t remember if it was screened in cinemas. If so, I missed it. Wasn’t sure about it to be honest. I know I should be supporting local product but it sounded a bit iffy and I could tell from the trailer where it was going. Whatever happened to Scottish directors with a bit of imagination. Will we ever get another Gregory’s Girl?

    • It’s really pretty good in most aspects, but there’s a modern focus on the emotions of the main character that’s missing here. The presentation is accomplished, but not keyed in to her journey tightly enough.

    • It’s a more than decent film, and I was happy to certify it fresh on RT. Would be keen to see if others have the issues I had, so let me know how you get on. The acting is reason enough to give it a whirl…

      • Searching around for it, doesn’t look like I can stream it here in the States yet. Keeping it on my radar. Also finding it difficult to find a theater still showing Amsterdam. Keen to see both.

        • Yup, it was a US publicist who made me aware of this, but in the UK it’s already on the streaming services I’ve got in my metadata. Drop me an email if you’d like me to put you in touch with the publicist.

        • Didn’t realise Amsterdam is such a bust. Only out a couple of weeks but it’s vanished from screens here, too. I enjoyed it immensely so it’s a shame such an intelligent film with a great cast does so little business.

  2. In regards to your question yesterday:
    Die Hard
    John Wick
    Original Star Wars trilogy

    All movies I’ve watched multiple times n will continue to do so.

    • To be fair, they take things at a fair clip, and don’t dwell too much on the harrowing stuff. But that’s also a problem when tackling a story which hinges on rape; while there’s some effort to show things from Kirsty’s POV, there’s not enough in the mystery to have the emotional resonance required. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off, but content warnings could and should apply in case anyone is expecting a quaint drama.

  3. I’m going to forego my usual flippant reply here. I am very torn about movies that have this type of content. On one hand I realize some directors feel they have to portray the grim realities of life. On the other hand, some directors will have a guy bounce off of a car going 60mph, hit a brick wall and immediately get up, which just ignores reality altogether.

    • Yup, I could be wrong, maybe people in sheltered communities would see trouble coming, but it doesn’t feel right; maybe there was something more to the novel that’s not in the film…action movies, however, have their own logic, and it’s nowt to do with reality…

      • Is it like street hockey, so when a snowplow comes by everyone says “Plow!” and gets off the road and then after it’s gone by they say “Dance on!” and start up the music again?

        • It’s not far off, although traffic levels in the Hebridean islands were fairly low during WWI…jumpers for goalposts and so on…

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