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Australia 1998
Directed by
Rolf de Heer
101 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Dance Me To My Song

Although tending to the heavy-handed at times, Rolf De Heer’s film about a woman (Heather Rose) suffering from cerebral palsy is a remarkable film – unflinching in following through subject matter that many will find confronting.

Seriously handicapped Julia lives alone in suburban Adelaide and is cared for by Madelaine (Joey Kennedy) who hates her job and Julia and desperately searches for some man to get her out of her situation When Julia meets Eddie (John Brumpton) Madelaine sets her cap at him. And so does Julia.

De Heer’s film is quite harrowing. For a start Heather Rose, whom De Heer met when he was making Bad Boy Bubby and who is credited as a co-writer of the screenplay is an intelligent woman with the full range of human feelings really has acute cerebral palsy and the cruelty of her misfortune is palpable. The cruelty of her supposed carer only adds another blow to the experience of watching her struggle to complete the most basic of functions, acts which the rest of us only too easily take for granted

Although both Kennedy and Brumpton clearly had difficult tasks they tend at times to be rather over(Kennedy) or under (Brumpton) playing their roles.  De Heer, however, cleverly uses their characters to invest the narrative with other dimensions, giving the film a good deal of suspense particularly with the Eddie character whose motives for befriending Julia remain obscure throughout the film.  The role of Julia's roughnut friend (Rena Owen) is less convincing.

In the final analysis, however, the film belongs to Heather Rose. It is a remarkable gift from De Heer and deserves to be watched by everyone.




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