Michael (Robertson) has cerebal palsy and lives a dull existence in the hushed rooms of Carrigmore Home For The Disabled. But after the arrival of Rory (McAvoy), also wheelchair-bound but fiercely free-spirited, the two young men leave the home on a quest for independence.
After the breakout success of East Is East, Damien O'Donnell announced that he was to leave comedy behind to try his hand at other genres. But just as East's gags came accompanied by serious themes and a burst of brutality, so his latest is a drama with a healthy streak of irreverent, crowdpleasing humour.
Much of it is due to Rory (Wimbledon's James McAvoy), whose bitter volleys of sarcasm are precisely targeted to wound the objects of his ire. By turning what could have been a helpless, sympathy-grabbing hero into a helpless, obnoxious anti-hero, O'Donnell avoids easy sentimentality and creates much-needed ambiguity. Does he befriend Michael out of genuine affection, or just because he needs someone to impress? McAvoy's charming performance makes it easy to give Rory the benefit of the doubt.
Newcomer Steven Robertson, meanwhile, delivers a solid turn as the super-smart Michael. His and McAvoy's interplay is consistently impressive, especially in a scene which sees the pair trying to pick up some girls.
The script doesn't provide quite enough detail for their characters to justify the emotional ending, but O'Donnell should be lauded for offering a sensitive portrayal of disabled people without ever being patronising.
Noble in intention and cheeky in delivery, Inside I'm Dancing nimbly dodges the subject matter's pitfalls.
Reviewed by Nick De Semlyen