Home The Road Dance

The Road Dance (15)

Cast: Hermione Corfield, Will Fletcher, Morven Christie, Mark Gatiss
Genre: Drama
Author(s): Richie Adams
Director: Richie Adams
Release Date: 20/05/2022 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 117mins
Country: UK
Year: 2021

In 1916, the spectre of the First World War casts a lengthening shadow over the Isle of Lewis. Murdo MacAulay returns to the village of Gearrannan from Glasgow, where his skills as a typist have been employed to send telegrams to families of the fallen. He is reunited with his mother Aileen, young brother Alasdair and sweetheart Kirsty Macleod, who dreams of a better life in America. Universal conscription threatens to tear the lovebirds apart and Murdo vows to marry Kirsty on his return.


LondonNet Film Review

The Road Dance (15) Film Review from LondonNet

The devastating impact of war on an insular, God-fearing community is illustrated with varying degrees of success by writer-director Richie Adams in a handsomely mounted period drama. Adapted from John MacKay’s acclaimed novel, The Road Dance opens on the shores of the Outer Hebrides at the turn of the 20th century, a rugged, windswept wilderness pounded by angry waves, captured in spectacular aerial vistas by cinematographer Petra Korner. The untamed beauty of this chain of islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland provides a vivid backdrop to Adams’ conventional love story that yearns to escape to America via one of the ocean liners that glide across the horizon…

Simmering screen chemistry between lead actors Hermione Corfield and Will Fletcher staves off an icy chill and endears us to their star-crossed lovers as fate (in the form of the Great War) conspires to separate them. Unfortunately, absence makes the heart of MacKay’s script beat slower and the aftermath of a shocking attack is emotionally underpowered, relying heavily on Corfield and co-stars to fill in gaps in the writing. The Road Dance sways pleasantly to familiar narrative rhythms and production design evokes a close-knit colony bound tightly to tradition and the words of the Bible. Silent prayers for originality go unanswered.

In 1916, the spectre of the First World War casts a lengthening shadow over the Isle of Lewis. Murdo MacAulay (Fletcher) returns to the village of Gearrannan from Glasgow, where his skills as a typist have been employed to send telegrams to families of the fallen. He is reunited with his mother Aileen (Frances Grey), young brother Alasdair (Caleb Johnston-Miller) and sweetheart Kirsty Macleod (Corfield), who dreams of a better life in America. “I want more than potatoes and farming the same land as my Ma and Da,” she tells Murdo. Universal conscription threatens to tear the lovebirds apart and Murdo vows to marry Kirsty on his return.

The night before Murdo and neighbours Angus (Luke Nunn), Calum (Scott Miller) and Iain (Tom Byrne) leave for the mainland, the entire community rallies for an alcohol-soaked dance under the stars. Kirsty rebuffs an unwanted overture from Iain and shortly after, she is sexually assaulted on a hillside in the darkness. Fractured memories of the attack resurface after brave conscripts have departed and Kirsty silently prepares for the shame she will bring on her mother Mairi (Morven Christie) and younger sister Annie (Ali Fumiko Whitney) as an expectant mother out of wedlock.

The Road Dance is more comfortable depicting desire than despair, fleshing out the village with genre stalwarts including a caring doctor (Mark Gatiss) and police constable (Ian Pirie). The grim inevitability of Kirsty’s predicament is realised across two hours at a pace more suited to a waltz than a jig.

– Kim Hu


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