Inside Im Dancing
3.5/5US title: Rory OShea Was Here
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Damian O'Donnell
scr Jeffrey Caine
with James McAvoy, Steven Robertson, Romola Garai, Brenda Fricker, Stanley Townsend, Gerard McSorley, Ruth Mcabe, Ofo Uhiara, Adam Fergus, Tom Hickey, Alan King, Pat Shortt
release UK Oct.04, US 4.Feb.05
04/Ireland 1h44

A walk in the park: Robertson, Garai, McAvoy

mcavoy garai fricker


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Inside I'm Dancing Films about disability are tricky--how to keep them from being so worthy that they fail to touch us personally, how to avoid overwhelming sentimentality, how to cast actors who can play it convincingly. But O'Donnell (East Is East) somehow manages all three.

Michael (Robertson) has always lived in a Dublin nursing home; his parents couldn't deal with his severe cerebral palsy. He has a strong personality, but accepts life as it comes ... until Rory (McAvoy) arrives with a degenerative muscular dystrophy that's left him with the use of two fingers (to drive his chair) and his opinionated mouth. He's a bundle of fiery energy who soon wins Michael over to his plan to gain independence. And possibly also the heart of a local girl (Garai).

The story is excellent, and McAvoy and Robertson create characters we can identify with and root for. They aren't perfect--tough and determined, as they must be, but also blind to truths they need to face. Robertson struggles with the technical details of CP, but he gives Michael such an engaging personality that he succeeds wonderfully. These 21-year-olds have the same hopes and desires as anyone, but with different physical challenges. And Garai is wonderful in a risky, subtle role as a woman who genuinely likes both guys, but isn't quite sure where to draw a line.

O'Donnell directs with a lively flair for life's vivid colourings, without ever wallowing in pity. The tone is mischievous, even dipping into corny comedy. So when things shift into emotional rawness we go right along with characters we've grown to love. And there are some incredibly sad scenes, which never lay on the weepiness and work simply because the material is so strong. But it doesn't all work like this; there are problems in the logistics of the plot (some events seem a too convenient or silly, others downright improbable), and both O'Donnell and writer Caine overreach for comedy, drama and lesson-teaching now and then. But this is an important film that will help us look at disability through new eyes. And entertain us in the process.

cert 15 themes, language 26.Jul.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Inside I'm Dancing / Rory O'Shea Was Here Michael, Dublin: 5/5 "This is one of the best movies I have seen for ages. It has all the characteristics that lends me to think it is destined to be a hit. Set in Dublin, it portrays 2 guys in their 20s who are wheelchair-bound who manage to obtain independent living against the odds. You will laugh and cry. It's not over-sentimentalised either." (12.Oct.04)

Lyn Ward, Cambridge: 5/5 "I'm a tough critic but this is a truly terrific film. It doesn't keep anything back; it has a huge amount of style and soul; and the performances are wonderful. But much more important than any of this - I think this film will do more for disability awareness and rights than any laws on accessibility. What a case for keeping people with disabilities in with the common herd (complete 'integration'). Loved it - see it!" (10.Oct.04)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall