Eye For Film >> Movies >> Man Dancin' (2003) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Stanners
Under the current diet of Scottish films, a foreigner from a distant land could be forgiven for thinking Scotland was nothing more than a grim little settlement of needles, high rise tenements and bleak landscapes. OK, so parts of it are, but unless the subject matter is treated with care, outward perceptions are going to be unfairly tarnished forever. Norman Stone's latest effort, Man Dancin', does very little to rescue these burgeoning stereotypes.
Ex-boxer Jimmy (Alex Ferns) is on parole after a nine-year stretch in jail. Returning to his dilapidated home estate, he is determined to put his feet on the right track. But trouble has a knack of sniffing out ex cons like Jimmy, and it's not long before he finds out his brother Terry (Cas Harkins) is a heroin fiend, who stoops so low as to steal his sick, hospitalised mother's wedding ring to finance a skag deal. Meanwhile, his female peers are working the street as hookers and his former employer - local don, big Donnie McGlone (James Cosmo) - is doing his best to drag him back down the slippery slope.
While Jimmy unsuccessfully dodges punches from hoodlums involved in his brother's mess, the local priest, Father Flynn (Tom Georgeson), attempts to keep him on the straight and narrow by roping him into the church play. However, Jimmy's keen dramatic acumen soon lets everyone know that the play is "pure shite", and, reluctantly, begins to work on a script that will relieve his anger issues, as well as give the local community something meaningful to identify with.
Meanwhile, McGlone is in cahoots with Detective Pancho and his crew - bent coppers, suspicious of Jimmy's intentions - who deviously rope Jimmy's brother into spilling the beans on Jimmy's whereabouts. When Jimmy attempts to set his brother straight, he digs a deeper hole for himself, crossing the line from which there is no return.
Stone has bitten off too much here. The plot strands are endless and allow for little character development. Although this type of story runs on action and events, more on Jimmy and Donnie's backgrounds would have fleshed out their roles. Jenny Foulds, as Maria, a hooker who takes a shine to Jimmy, is the most major in a minor female cast.
Stone manages to redeem himself somewhat in a deeply macabre, but satisfactory climax, which refuses to indemnify itself with the happy Hollywood ending.
Well, this is Glasgow after all.Reviewed on: 19 Feb 2004
If you like this, try:American Cousins