Take The Lead

Take The Lead


Reviewed by: Stephanie Wolfe Murray

This is a feel good movie. I found myself smiling pretty much the whole way through. What a relief! What a delight!

Outside, the sky was a translucent blue, quite without clouds. How could I go into a dark movie theatre on a day like this? But pretty soon I was relating to the characters, particularly the delectable Antonio Banderas, playing Pierre Dulaine.

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The setting is Harlem, New York. The school is rough, black and problem ridden. But, man, these kids are cool. You should see them break dance!

There are plenty of them in the detention class, which is where we go with Pierre, a middle-aged dance instructor, who, for reasons known only to himself, takes on the challenge of bringing some meaning into the lives of these cynical, often violent, kids who also happen to be bored out of their skulls.

You can imagine the scene. In walks this sweet, exquisitely courteous man to a scene of raw mayhem. Who is this guy? What gross music is he trying to inflict on us? Foxtrot? Are you kidding? For-get it!

The school principal (Alfre Woodard) is feisty, difficult, but desperate enough to allow Pierre to come in and to fight for him to stay. A mere human would give up, but Pierre - hurt, confused, at the end of his tether - brings in his dance champion protege, who happens to be female, beautiful, white and barely clothed. And they dance the tango. Dio mio!

What a performance - and Banderas claims to only have learnt to dance for the making of this film. The kids are bowled over, tongues hanging out, and we're ready to roll.

Mercifully, everything doesn't fall into place and all live happily ever after. The problems are huge, but you get the drift. This is not a great movie about social deprivation. There are sub plots, one troubled and romantic, with two of the more disaffected kids, but in the end Pierre himself is the most interesting.

Little is said, but Banderas plays a character who has dignity and determination, mingled with an aura of sadness, which is felt rather than shown. Talented, indeed!

More importantly, the story is based on truth and it is a tale worth telling. So don't ask, "Why another dance movie?" This is the reason why.

Reviewed on: 13 Apr 2006
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A dance instructor teaches tough kids in Harlem how to foxtrot and tango.
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Director: Liz Friedlander

Writer: Dianne Houston

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown, Alfre Woodard, Dante Basco, Ray Liotta, Lyriq Bent, Brandon Andrews

Year: 2006

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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