Inside I'm Dancing

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Review byMatthew Turner12/10/2004

Four out of Five stars

Enjoyable, moving comedy-drama with likeable characters, a strong script and impressive performances by Robertson and McAvoy.

Inside I'm Dancing, which won the Audience Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival, is the latest film from Damien O'Donnell, who directed East Is East and the under-rated Heartlands. O'Donnell's films are notable for their effective blending of comedy and tragedy and Inside I'm Dancing is no exception - ostensibly it's a moving, serious drama about friendship and independence, but it also has a ever-present streak of dark humour running through it. The adverts for the film say things along the lines of "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll see the world a different way" and for once, they might actually be right.

Newcomer Steven Robertson plays Michael Connolly, a 24 year old man with cerebral palsy who has lived his whole life in the Carrigmore Home For The Disabled, under the watchful eye of the formidable Eileen (Brenda Fricker). However, his life is transformed when he gets a new neighbour in the shape of rebellious Rory O'Shea (James McAvoy), who is equally paralysed and wheelchair-bound but still capable of wreaking havoc with his two working fingers and his wise-cracking mouth.

When Michael discovers that Rory can understand his almost unintelligible speech, the two quickly become friends. Rory wastes no time in trying to effect their escape from the Home and eventually they move into a shared flat, employing the services of a local girl, Siobhan (Romola Garai) as their care assistant. However, their quest for independence hits an unexpected snag when both men develop feelings for Siobhan...

James McAvoy (Wimbledon) is fast becoming one of Britain's hottest young stars, thanks to impressive TV work on the likes of Shameless and State of Play. If there's any justice, Inside I'm Dancing should ensure a healthy film career, as he's extremely good here. Rory has a very bitter, sarcastic, even manipulative side to him and it's to McAvoy's credit that he remains sympathetic throughout.

Steven Robertson is excellent in the sort of role that would guarantee an Oscar nomination if played by a movie star - he manages to convey a huge amount with just his incredibly expressive eyes. Romola Garai (also something of a rising star) is equally impressive, not to mention drop dead gorgeous - the fancy dress sequence with the naughty nurse outfit should earn her an admiring legion of male fans that might have missed her in I Capture The Castle or Dirty Dancing 2.

The film is extremely well-written and thoroughly researched, though it's only fair to warn you that you'll need a sturdy handkerchief for the final reel, which is possibly a little heavy-handed. There's a lot to enjoy though, especially in the interplay between Michael and Rory - a scene where they pick up two girls in a bar is a particular highlight.

In short, Inside I'm Dancing is well worth seeing, thanks to impressive performances by McAvoy and Robertson and solid direction by O'Donnell. Recommended.

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Inside I'm Dancing
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Content updated: 19/02/2020 16:34

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