Film Review: Inside I’m Dancing

To a lot of people movies, cinema and films just evoke imagery of franchised Hollywood blockbusters. Computer generated worlds funded by massive budgets and populated with a handful of seemingly removed from reality superstars. But they are missing out on so much. On the films that feel independent of Hollywood. That look rural to the urbanisation of the big screen. That have a narrative point and linger inside and that, provide emotional response rather than just visual stimulation.

Inside I’m Dancing is one of those emotionally charged films. Missed by so many because it’s about real people, prejudice and what it means to be alive and not robots having a fight. I do not know how I first came to see it, but I can still clearly remember the moment, playing out on a small laptop screen, completely blown away and I can even still feel how it made me feel. Returning to it now, after a very long break (I have leant to it so many friends it’s taken a while to return), every emotion was freshly stirred and as strong as ever.

Steven Robertson, James McAvoy & Romola Garai - Inside I'm Dancing

One of the reasons I find it so powerful is that it takes disability and challenges every stereotyped idea and misconception people hold. But it does so in the must visual of ways. It takes two people in wheelchairs and sticks them into the centre of the screen. You cannot visually avoid them, or their “differences”. And then it does something magical, something that makes you truly understand what it means to be human, alive, to live: it makes you forget they are anything other than two people.

It pulls off this completely naturally but wonderfully impressive trick by highlighting the most important part of any person: their personality. It shows you all that is important is what makes the characters tick. Their sense of humour, their outlook on life, the sparkle in their eye. It shows you so plainly that just because somebody has a disability that it doesn’t define them, or change them. They aren’t different to you, they do everything you do, and within minutes of the film starting it’s no longer a film set in the world of wheelchairs and disabilities but the story of two friends who fast welcome you into their world and make you feel very, very welcome.

James McAvoy - Inside I'm Dancing

Obviously this ability to make you completely blind to anything other than the characters’ normality is down to the amazing performances given by the leading cast: James McAvoy as Rory O’Shea and Steven Robertson as Michael Connelly. Especially when you realise that neither actor carries the disabilities they portray on screen to be able to convince you so strongly of their character is stunning. And aside from age, McAvoy is so completely unrecognisable and convincing from any role he has ever played that I had totally forgotten it was him.

Inside I’m Dancing buries deep inside me. It tumbles so many emotions around my stomach, proving over and over again that disability means nothing. I feel what they feel. And while the plot of the film at times may just slip slightly, the characters twisting events that feel a little simplified and far-fetched so you feel they are being designed to serve the stories narrative purpose rather than anything plausible to a real scenario, this doesn’t really matter because it’s overwhelmed by the looks of pain, joy or naivety that engulf you through the the eyes of the characters. They draw you in, make you connect, feel and then linger afterwards. I can still feel the tinge of anxiousness that descends into almost reflective sadness as Robertson’s character over steps the mark with Siobhan (played by Romola Garai).

James McAvoy (Wheelchair) - Inside I'm Dancing

While I adore the characters and the strength of performance they all bring in making you feel welcome in their world, it’s the fact that that world you enter just feels so real that really cements the mundane beauty and normality of the film. It’s simply characters who feel alive living in a world you could reach out and touch it. The world is just clear and visceral and the bustle of day to day life instantly recognisable. It just all adds together, to play you on the inner city street, with them, living life as it ticks along. And that’s exactly what it needs because the film doesn’t drag, but it doesn’t race either. It passes with the natural ticking of time, everything around you feeling in the natural rhythm of life.

Inside I’m Dancing is just real. I watch it and I can honestly see myself, walking past the characters in the street, hearing them laugh, seeing their vitality, and yet, I am amazed to see (while researching the film to write this blog post) that it isn’t rated with the critics. Rotten Tomatoes only score it at 49%. I assume that the critics struggle to overlook the superficial plot, that the implausibility of some events cause them to miss the beauty that I find in the characters, because I obviously connect to it on a far more personal level. Every time I’ve watched it, I’ve met characters that remind me what is truly important in life; they’ve allowed me to be their friend and I truly wish I could buy them all a pint, share a laugh and dance like nobody is watching, because they’re worth it.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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