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Bill Hunter
Paul Mercurio
Tara Morice
Bill Hunter
Pat Thompson.
Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann.
Andrew Bovell
Craig Pearce
Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann
Andrew Bovell
Craig Pearce.
Running Time
94 minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Intern, The
3 Star Empire Rating
3 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
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5 Star Empire Rating
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5 Star Empire Rating
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5 Star Empire Rating

Strictly Ballroom
Dirty Dancing in Oz

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Talented dancer Scott (Mercurio) is struggling to make it to the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, due in part to his refusal to adhere to the dance steps approved by his team. Step forward the only club member prepared to partner him: clumsy novice Fran (Morice). Sparks fly.

The sleeper hit of the 1992 Cannes Film Festival where it received a 15-minute standing ovation, Baz Luhrmann's offbeat, vibrant and at times decidedly hilarious tale has justifiably been branded Dirty Dancing Down Under - but don't let that put you off.

When ballroom champ Scott Hastings (Mercurio) outrages the dance fraternity by dancing his own steps rather than those laid down by the staid Federation, he finds himself partnerless three weeks before the most important event of his young life, the coveted Pan-Pacific Championships. Step forward frumpy Fran (Morice), the local dance club klutz, offering her services to an initially reluctant Scott who swiftly discovers that underneath her ugly duckling pimples and horn-rim specs there lies a whirlwind on the dancefloor with Spanish blood coursing through her veins and the Paso Doble down pat. So while Scott's domineering mother (Thomson) scampers round in search of a suitable replacement for her beloved son and Federation President Barry Fife (Hunter) endeavours to sabotage the renegade partnership, Fran's father covertly coaches the two hoofers in the finer points of the Flamenco.

What originally began life as a drama school production is conclusive proof of the enduring power of the fairy tale - in this case Cinderella by way of David And Goliath. Snappily scripted, it has a brashness inherent in Aussie soaps and a charm all of its own, then-debutant director Luhrmann revealing a light, irreverent touch and mustering superior comedic performances from his largely unknown cast. Mercurio, with his floppy fringe and sequinned Matador jacket, is a real find, cutting a dash on the dancefloor to rival that of Swayze himself.

Fluff it may well be, but a more entertaining and engaging piece of fluff you'd be hard pushed to find.

Reviewed by Mark Salisbury

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