Morris: A Life With Bells On

Morris: A Life With Bells On


Reviewed by: Yusuf Javed

There's no doubting that Morris dancing is an odd theme for a movie - even a comedy. Yet, somehow it works. Charlie Thomas Oldham stars as up-and-coming Morris dancer Derecq Twist, a talented youngster who comes from a long lineage of Morris dancers. Twist is the star of the Milsham Morris dance team and is having a documentary made about him.

Twist has been invited to do the legendary dance, the Threeple Hammer Damson, which is only performed at the request of the Morris dancing governing entity, the Morris Circle. Although enjoying traditional Morris, Twist is living up to his name and experimenting with the dances. In doing so it ruffles the feathers of the traditionalist Morris Circle who then strip him of his chance to perform.

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Derecq fights back with a brand of “New Morris” but before he even starts, endures turmoil which makes him hang up his bells for good. But will the documentary's producer Jeremy (Aidan McArdle) be able to save the day?

Oldham, who not only stars but also wrote the screenplay, plays Derecq magnificently embuing the character with kind heartedness and hopefulness. By avoiding the trap of overplaying the character, the gentle humour of his situation is allowed to shine more brightly.

There are good turns, too, from the supporting cast. Sir Derek Jacobi pops in to star as the pretentious, change allergic leader of the Morris Circle, Quentin Neely, while Naomi Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean 2) plays Derecq’s American girlfriend.

The film also boasts some fantastic cinematography from Roger Chapman, who is best known for his documentary work. Chapman's work here - showing Dorset at its finest - is almost too good, threatening to distract you from the plot.

One of the great strengths of Morris is that it doesn’t use an over-shaky camera style but instead gently slides into a shot every now and again to maintain the documentary feel.

Winning by a landslide in the category for “Most likeable recent dance film”, Morris is a light and open-hearted film, much like its main character. This leaves it susceptible to few drawbacks, which unfortuantely include the final act feeling incredibly rushed in its telling and believability. Yet even carrying these weights on its shoulders Morris dances on. A great first step for screenwriter Oldham and actress turned director Lucy Akhurst, and a fun watch.

Reviewed on: 28 Jul 2010
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Morris dancing mockumentary.
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Director: Lucy Akhurst

Writer: Charles Thomas Oldham

Starring: Lucy Akhurst, Brodie Bass, Andy Black, Ben Bela Böhm, John Boswall, Jasper Britton, Thomas Coombes, Adam Ewan, Gary Fannin, Naomie Harris, Ian Hart, Derek Jacobi, Corinne Kempa, Zena Khan, Pascal Langdale

Year: 2009

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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