Man Dancin'

Man Dancin'


Reviewed by: Claire Sawers

When Jimmy Kerrigan is released from jail after serving nine years for gun-running, he is invited by his family priest to take part in the local church's passion play, in a bid to keep him out of trouble. Jimmy turns up to rehearsals of the amateur dramatic production as promised, but after taking one look at the wooden acting and poorly written script, he announces in his West coast Scottish drawl, "This is pure sh***, innit?"

Sadly, it seems the film fares little better. Plot-wise, it tries too hard to do too many things at the same time. Jimmy (Alex Ferns - better known as wife-beating Scots villain, Trevor, from EastEnders) is an ex-con who has decided to go straight. As he explains, in typically eloquent fashion, "Ah'm no the man ah wis."

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Unfortunately, this is roughly as deep as any attempt at character analysis goes. Hellbent on cleaning up the crime-riddled streets of Glasgow by hook or (mostly) crook, Jimmy uses the church as a safehouse, where prostitutes and heroin users can seek refuge - and take part in a community drama project.

The scenes where Christian do-gooders rehearse their lines and split hairs over Biblical accuracy are often amusing, but mostly plain confusing, considering the context of gangland violence that they sit amongst. While Father Flynn, a hopelessly clichéd Irish priest, almost as shamelessly stereotyped as the grumpy Cockney police officer, conducts drama classes, brutal assaults, arson, murder and sectarian violence takes place against the backdrop of boarded up Glasgow tenements and graffiti sprayed cars.

The juxtaposition of comedy and crime seems unconvincing at best and totally inappropriate at worst. It is a shame that a film set and filmed in Glasgow should be such an embarassment to the city itself. Laden with stereotypes - drunken, drug using, dropout Glaswegians, surviving on a diet of crisps and cigarettes - the film has as much originality and credibility as the script of a bad TV soap.

The action is certainly "gritty", with countless grey council house façades merging endlessly into brown building sites and gloomy pub interiors. This is not, however, the type of thing that could be classed as "gritty realism", and the difference is a crucial one.

When Danny Boyle and Richard Jobson took the city streets of Scotland as a stage for scenes of bleak violence and poverty in their films, they produced something beautiful and powerful. Stone has barely managed something coherent.

The working-class setting, filmed with obvious care and affection and featuring beautiful shots from the rooftops, courtyards and stairwells of council estates, would doubtless have done justice by a less ambitious plot and better developed characters.

Reviewed on: 26 Oct 2003
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Man Dancin' packshot
An ex-gang member returns to Glasgow to clean up his neighbourhood.
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Read more Man Dancin' reviews:

David Stanners **1/2

Director: Norman Stone

Writer: Sergio Casci

Starring: Alex Feld, Tom Georgeson, Kenneth Cranham, James Cosmo, Jenny Foulds, Cas Harkins, Gerald Lepkowski

Year: 2003

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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