Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Extended 'Party' sequence. Deleted
scenes. Featurette. Trailer.
ON THE surface, a film about the adventures of two wheelchair-bound
friends, who suffer from muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy,
might seem like a hard-sell.
But thanks to Damien (East Is East) O'Donnell's breezy direction
and the winning charisma of its two central stars (James McAvoy
and Stephen Robertson), the film has a great deal to offer.
The two friends in question first meet at the Carrigmore Residential
Home for Disabled People, a 'special home for special people',
which is resided over by the formidable Nurse Eileen (Brenda Fricker).
Michael (Robertson) is a 24-year-old long-term resident, suffering
from cerebral palsy, whose existence has been hum-drum to say
His quiet existence is shattered, however, by the arrival of
the rebellious Rory O’Shea (McAvoy), a sort of wheelchair-bound
RP McMurphy (from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest fame), who sets
about intimidating the home's staff and inspiring its dorment
McAvoy plays O'Shea with a cunning mix of qualities - some objectionable,
others deeply sympathetic - getting the balance just right most
of the time.
His verbal volleys - while funny - are designed to inflict the
utmost pain, yet he immediately strikes up a friendship with Michael
because of his ability to understand his almost unintelligible
Underpinning their relationship, however, is O'Shea's desire
to live independently - a desire that is ultimately fulfilled
with the help of Michael's decision to apply for a home for the
two of them, which he secures with considerable ease.
Yet living together brings its fair
share of problems, too, and the duo quickly recruit the services
of Romola Garai's Siobhan (whom they previously met in a pub and
club), who threatens to drive a wedge between them, as both develop
feelings for her.
As unlikely as the situation sounds, however, O'Donnell manages
to structure an absorbing, funny, poignant and ultimately empowering
tale of triumph against the odds.
The film wisely avoids the temptation to become heavy-handed
or patronising, seldom forcing the viewer's sentiments, or allowing
things to become too sugar-coated.
Hence, despite a sluggish start, you'll be laughing along with
the duo as they attempt to pull women with the proceeds from their
charity collection, or as O'Shea races some of the children from
the estate in his wheelchair, and you'll be crying by the time
it reaches its affecting conclusion.
And while McAvoy undoubtedly has the showier of the two roles,
newcomer Robertson invests a great deal of charm into his character
(his look of exasperation is priceless), while the rapidly emerging
Garai is also terrific as the object of the men's affections,
who, ultimately, must disappoint them both.
It is a tribute to all concerned that they keep their characters
grounded in reality, while O'Donnell, again, deserves praise for
making sure that the film never seeks any conclusions that would
undermine the journey.
Inside I'm Dancing won the The Standard Life Audience Award at
this year's Edinburgh Film Festival, for being the biggest crowd-pleaser,
and it's easy to see why.
It's an extremely liberating affair that is both a noble portrayal
of the disabled people it depicts and a wickedly funny character-study
to boot. Audiences can't fail to be moved by it.