Take the Lead Review

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After witnessing an act of vandalism by a young student, dance teacher Pierre Dulaine is inspired to start teaching ballroom dancing to detention pupils at a deprived inner-city school. Despite initial resistance, he soon begins to win them over.


It’s possible this is the least surprising film ever made. From the moment Antonio Banderas’ privileged European dance teacher volunteers to help out the multi-ethnic delinquents at a local inner-city school, every beat and movement is perfectly choreographed to play a familiar inspirational teacher tune. We’re watching, essentially, Dangerous Feet.

Which isn’t to say it’s bad. There are some decent performances from the motley crew of students, and Banderas does well despite an underwritten role. But the breakout star here is the dance. It’s next to impossible not to twitch your hips during many scenes, and there are two showstopping tangos that particularly pack a punch – literally, at one point. Expect the expected, take the “based on a true story” claim with a large pinch of salt, and enjoy the fancy footwork.

As a drama it’s only so-so, and all those wanting the true story it’s based on should watch documentary Mad Hot Ballroom instead, but the energy and rhythm keep it moving along gracefully.