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|February 17, 2001||
Thank God tap dancing did not disappear with the exit of the likes of Gene Kelley, Fred Astaire and Donald O'Connor.
It was revived in Australia by Dein Perry, whose show Tap Dogs caught the attention of the dancing world. Before long, Perry was winning Best Choreographer awards by the dozen.
Bootmen, released through 20th Century Fox, is all about tap dancing.
If the unemployed workers of a British town danced nude in Full Monty, the Australian small town steelworkers about to be laid off make waves by tap dancing.
The film is all about director-choreographer Dien Perry's growing up in the small town of Newcastle, where almost everyone is employed in the steel mills. The mills are omnipresent in the film. Nothing happens in the town without the mills being the focus.
Bootmen has been made with two issues in focus -- the mills, and tap dancing. It is a loud film, made for the younger generation, and recaptures the spirit of rebellion among them.
Brothers Sean (Adam Garcia) and Mitch (Sam Worthington) follow their father Gary (Richard Carter) into the steel mills, but they soon realise that there is no future in their jobs. So they take to dancing.
Sean plans a show, with the mills in the background. But complications arise in the form of a gang war involving Mitch and his car-stealing activities. Besides, Mitch gets caught sleeping with Sean's girl friend Linda (Sophia Lee).
Sean discovers that he has no future in the big city, and starts his own tap dance group. But he has to contend with local hostility, prejudices, and the contempt of his own father. Finally, he hits upon the idea of modernising tap dancing, setting it to present day music.
His dancers are from the working class, they practise their moves in the cavernous mills, and finally win acclaim.
Director-choreographer Perry has a firm grasp of plot and screenplay. Despite aberrations like gang wars, and the needlessly complicated love affairs, the director keeps his eye on the main theme, adapting it to suit the modern generation. It is a tough act to pull off, but Perry manages it just fine -- and gets the audience dancing to his tune.
Adam Garcia, who had a long stint in the West End production of Saturday Night Fever, does a great job while Richard Carter is highly effective as the frustrated father, Gary, who finds it hard to accept the fact that there could be life outside the steel mills.
Slick editing and cinematography help add to the appeal of the movie -- but in the final analysis, Bootmen is more of a choreographer's film.
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