Cinema's rehabilitation of ballroom dancing continues with this tale inspired by the work of dance teacher Pierre Dulaine. The subject of recent hit documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, Dulaine's reward for teaching New York school kids to dance is to be played by Antonio Banderas in Liz Friedlander's surprisingly effective feelgood flick.
Banderas' Dulaine tries to turn around a group of disaffected high school students with a mix of old-fashioned moves and hip hop. When he enters them in a dance competition, the result is predictable but the film's serious social issues save viewers from reaching for the sick bag.
Banderas is understated as the dance teacher with a social mission, but Alfre Woodard turns in a cartoonish performance as the school's hard-nut headmistress. Can the samba really save your life? What do you think?