Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann, 1992) wr. Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce; earlier screenplay: Baz Luhrmann, Andrew Bovell; dp Steve Mason; Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, Gia Carides, Peter Whitford, Barry Otto, Antonio Vargas; 91 min.
Despite the exaggerated, hyperbolic style of all of his films (to date), Luhrmann seems nevertheless to take his metaphors seriously - and what he sees as the underlying meaning of the films. In Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann, 2001), the ‘Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love’ credo not only runs through the film as such, but is stressed by the director in the audio commentary on the DVD. And again here, he reiterates the idea that Strictly Ballroom is not just a story about a couple of ballroom dancers, but is an extended metaphor about artistic expression: about the notion that ‘art and rulebooks don’t mix’ (as he says in the commentary). Garry Gillard, Australian Screen Education, 33, Summer 2003: 143-146.
Listen to the rhythm of your heart in Strictly Ballroom, where tears and laughter blend seamlessly in an extravagantly theatrical story about love, dreams and overcoming your fears. With one of the most oomphy, emotion building openings of any film I can remember, the red curtain parts and we are thrown headlong into a whirlwind of spangled gowns, transfixed stage smiles, spontaneous applause and the magnificence of Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz (beautifully arranged by David Hirschfelder).
By using a mockumentary interview style integrated into the narrative, Baz Luhrmann has successfully married a bizarre stylised world of caricatures as a sharp contrast to the film’s heart and soul. Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile.
New: 23 November, 2012 | Now: 5 January, 2013 | garrygillard[at]gmail.com