Dance/musical competition films are such a fun subgenre that I don’t watch nearly enough. I grew up with Save the Last Dance (2001) and Honey (2003), but there was a good stretch there where I didn’t watch any. Although Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) was bloody hilarious. Break, that I reviewed a few weeks ago, reignited my love of the genre, so I marathoned a couple this week: Battle (2018) and Fierce (2020).
Fierce is a Polish film that follows a young woman who gets herself involved in a singing-on-television competition in order to impress/frustrate her estranged father, who is one of the judges. The singing in this is really, really impressive. The lead actress, Katarzyna Sawczuk, competed in the Voice of Poland competition in real life, and she’s fantastic. Maciej Zakościelny, who plays her dad, is equally as talented, and I loved his guitar scenes, haha. I also really adored the mother and grandmother! Honestly, the cast overall were awesome, the songs were really catchy and I liked the ending. There is one scene in this that had me like WHOA though, and totally took me by surprise. I won’t spoil you, but it’s near the end and I was like O.o for about five minutes.
Battle is a Norwegian film that follows a dancer after her father loses all of their money and they lose their home. They move to a new place and she hides the reality of her situation from her friends and boyfriend. When she meets Mikael, a young hip-hop dancer, she ends up discovering a whole new side of her new life and of other kinds of dancing. It’s very much like Save the Last Dance and Break, and I totally recommend it! The dance numbers are worth it and the main couple are adorable. Lisa Teige and Fabian Svegaard Tapia are brilliant actors!
Why isn’t every film a break dancing Step Up tribute in French with tougher characters and amazing romantic chemistry between the leads? That’s what I found myself asking after watching Break, a French Netflix drama that is 70% break dancing, 30% high quality romantic tension. The leads are incredible dancers, it must be said. Kévin Mischel, the lead actor, is a dancer in real life. (See this YouTube video as an example.) Sabrina Ouazani, the lead actress, does a fantastic job with different styles of dancing. I really wish I knew what all the types were called! I want to say air dancing (?), which is the opening scene with Lucie, the main character, dancing with Julien, her partner, on wires on the side of the building. Maybe it’s called wire dancing (?). There’s also break dancing, hints of ballet, street dancing, and dancing with silk ropes.
The opening scene, following a gorgeous montage of Julien and Lucie dancing, ends in a horrible accident when the rope holding Lucie snaps. After falling, Lucie wakes up in hospital damaged, but on the mend, and while she’s in and out of it, she thinks she sees her missing father watching over her. When she questions her mum about it, she’s met with lies, and once she’s out of hospital, Lucie sets off to find her dad, tracking him to a run down hotel in a rough part of the city where he works rehabilitating ex-cons. Her first night at the hotel, she meets Vincent, a dancer/ex-con with incredible talent but no desire to dance in public again. After Lucie sees him dancing alone, she pesters him to teach her, and Vincent reluctantly agrees to coach Lucie and Julien for their competition.
The script isn’t without its flaws, but the chemistry between the main characters and dance scenes are beyond perfection and more than make up any of the rougher patches of the dialogue. I rewatched the final dance scene and the club dance off so many times. AMAZING. This film is definitely for those who love dance and romance, and I definitely recommend giving it a try!