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DANCE ME TO MY SONG

SYNOPSIS:
Julia (Heather Rose) is crippled with cerebral palsy, lives in a wheelchair, waits for her carer to come and clean her, feed her, in a daily cycle. Her latest carer, Madelaine (Joey Kennedy) is a strung up and lonely young woman whose love life is in disarray. The two women are interdependent; Julia needs her carer, Madelaine needs her job. But they don’t exactly hit it off. Along comes Eddie (John Brumpton), a handsome young chap who appeals to both women. But Julia is behind the eight ball in this love battle, what with her wheelchair – she even needs a voice synthesiser to speak. Her body is small and frail and twisted …. But she is not totally helpless, as Madelaine discovers.

"Revealing, confronting and brutally honest, Dance Me To My Song is an extraordinary film with a documentary flavour, and overwhelmingly affecting. An exposé of the human spirit and a gut wrenching insight into the human condition, Heather Rose’s brave script (co-penned with Rolf De Heer and Frederick Stahl) searingly canvasses need, obligation, accountability, need and desire. It’s a story of dependency, courage, hopelessness, and inextinguishable spirit – with a touch of wry humour. The story (based loosely on some of Rose’s experiences) is a startling look beyond the obvious physical handicap and explores the intricacies of a strong mind that battles against totally inconceivable odds, and manages to overcome being a victim. Julia’s active mind is trapped in an uncoordinated, distorted body, and her carer doesn’t care. The parallels drawn between the carer and patient are all too telling and pertinent; which is the more needy? Who uses who? Dance Me To My Song hits every nerve and awakens the senses with razor-sharp poignancy. It totally defies expectations, shattering any preconceptions about major disability. All the performances are outstanding, but Rose herself is awesome. It’s a story that glosses over nothing and is intensely revealing: delving and probing far beyond the naked flesh. Graham Tardif’s effective music score uses simple phrases, repetitive notes, detached and connected that dance longingly. Inspirational and breathtaking in its raw approach, Dance Me To My Song is a haunting film, with indelible images that shock, confront, amaze and amuse. It is the journey of a lifetime - and a monumental cinematic experience."
Louise Keller

"I get a lump in my throat just thinking about this experience again, and feel humbled by Heather Rose's spirit, her performance and this, her amazing effort to tell a story that is basically about our absolute need for love. Without a shred of sentimentality, Dance Me To My Song whips up waves of emotions, feelings of awe and inspiration; if you responded to My Left Foot, this will sweep you away. All the performances are tops, from Rena Owen’s small but crucial role as the lesbian good friend, Rix, to Rose - entirely effective as Julia; Kennedy is brittle and vulnerable all at once as the woman who can’t get it together, lashing out one minute, embracing the next; Brumpton is brilliant as Eddie, slightly mysterious (possibly criminal) but balanced with a humanity onto which Julia latches. When he dances with her and later during their naked embrace, it’s like a handful of emotional handgrenades thrown into the cinema. In the end, it’s a love triangle, but the struggle takes place on terra infirma; Julia’s physical disability – its extreme nature – shifts the battle to shaky psychological ground. Directed with almost an austere hand, the film draws its impact from the unflinching portrayal of what appears to be a real life situation, in a way that has not been modified for commercial viewing. Be brave and go dancing with Julia."
Andrew L. Urban

"Difficult subjects or difficult characters are no strangers to Rolf de Heer. In Dance Me To My Song, he takes on both by exploring the relationship between a severely disabled person and a carer; a topic not often seen in mainstream cinema. The last was probably Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot. Selected for competition in Cannes this year (where it received a rare standing ovation), de Heer’s seventh feature confirms his reputation as one of this country’s finest directors. Like other recent Australian films (such as Head On), Dance Me To My Song is a brave and, in many ways, groundbreaking film. Its warts-and-all depiction of the triangular dynamics between the main characters gives the film a genuine earthiness and honesty, for the most part. However, it has an unsettlingly disjointed feel - which is not surprising when you know that the material was extensively reworked at the script stage (at the recent Brisbane International Film Festival, de Heer said that he rewrote "about half" of the original script). Its other major weakness is the contrived (but, it must be said, audience pleasing) ending; which sits uncomfortably with the balance of the film. Having said that, the film has some wonderful moments - touching encounters, humour and gripping tension. It also features fine performances from Heather Rose and Joey Kennedy. But the highlight for me was the shamefully underrated John Brumpton, outstanding as the man who invades the uneasy balance of the women’s relationship. A favorite on the festival circuit, Dance Me To My Song has much to commend it, and is another accomplished film in a wonderful year for Australian cinema. But ultimately, it is perhaps not the great film it could have been."
David Edwards

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DANCE ME TO MY SONG (M)
(Australia)

CAST: Heather Rose, Joey Kennedy, John Brumpton, Rena Owen

DIRECTOR: Rolf De Heer

PRODUCER: Rolf de Heer, Giuseppe Pedersoli, Domenico Procacci

SCRIPT: Rolf de Heer, Heather Roise, Frederick Stahl

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tony Clark

EDITOR: Tania Nehme

MUSIC: Graham Tardif

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Beverley Freeman

RUNNING TIME: 102

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 22, 1998, Adelaide only; Syd, Melb,ACT - Oct 29; Perth - Dec)

VIDEO RELEASE: July 20, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment







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