MARILYN HOTCHKISS’ BALLROOM DANCING & CHARM SCHOOL (2005)
Most films are flawed, but even ones with a dance floor full of stereotypical characters and plot holes—like MHBD&CS—can still show off some good moves. Frank Keane is a baker with burdens, including the recent death of his wife and chancing upon a road accident that thrusts him into another’s life . . . and death. As far as stereotypes go, Keane attends a widower’s support group (with predictable fellow grievers) and risks joining a dance group (with predictable dance partners). But I liked Keane (Robert Carlyle) and was thankful he’d “accidentally” run into John Goodman’s dying Steve Mills. It is because of Mills that Keane ends up at Marilyn Hotchkiss’ dance studio. Before dying, Mills got Keane to keep a long-ago promise made to Lisa, Mills’ 1960s junior high “crush.” Meeting Mills also causes Keane—and perhaps you and me—to wonder about the choices we make in life. A moment that deeply touched me involved the grown-up Lisa. Played quietly by Camryn Manheim, the brief scene reinforced MHBD&CS’s central question: what did you do with the choices you had?
Questions you are invited to use or ignore:
A question I’d ask you over a cup of coffee: How did you feel when the “adult” Lisa closed the door and sat at her desk?
A question I’d ask to get a church group talking: What are some of the choices you’ve make in your life that you’re . . . proud of or regret or question or are still in flux?