Review by Sean Boelman
And Then We Danced, written and directed by Levan Akin, is a Georgian coming-of-age tale set in the world of competitive dance. Offering some beautiful cinematography and a sometimes fascinating approach to a familiar story, there’s a lot of good things happening in this film, but not enough to elevate it into greatness.
The movie follows a young and devoted dancer whose desires are thrown askew when a gifted competitor rises through the ranks, leading to both rivalry and romance. In terms of LGBTQ coming-of-age films, this movie does not bring anything particularly new or innovative to the table, although it does offer a mostly interesting perspective.
The main theme of the film involves the clash between the conventional and the modern, and this manifests itself in both the romantic storyline and the dance storyline. Finding himself torn between his desires, his passions, and the expectations of society, the protagonist faces an internal conflict that, while commonly depicted, is also very sympathetic and compelling.
As is the case with most movies of the genre, the effectiveness of And Then We Danced is heavily reliant on the character development. The film does an excellent job of building the protagonist in a way that is very likable. The emotional crux of the movie revolves around the audience buying into the character’s ambitions, and Akin is able to effectively build the stakes of the story.
Newcomer Levan Gelbakhiani gives a phenomenal performance in his leading role. Having started his career as a dancer, it is understandable why Gelbakhiani is so gifted at expressing emotion through his movements and mannerisms, as that is the medium in which he is most comfortable. The most powerful moments in the film come not from the dialogue, but the visual storytelling.
As one would expect, the movie contains some absolutely fascinating dance sequences that are shot in a very interesting way. Akin and cinematographer Lisabi Fridell draw the viewer into this world of traditional Georgian dancing in a way that is entirely immersive. Viewers will come out of the film with an appreciation of the craft and quite possibly even a desire to learn more.
If the movie does have a significant weakness, it is that the sometimes conventional nature of the script causes it to be somewhat predictable. Much of the external conflict in the film feels rather anticlimactic because it is abundantly obvious that is the direction in which the movie is heading. If the film had focused more predominantly on the internal conflict, it likely could have held the viewer’s interest a bit more easily.
And Then We Danced is an interesting and often gorgeous coming-of-age tale, but it does lack originality at times. Still, the movie is worth watching because of its wonderful dance sequences and abundance of emotion.
And Then We Danced is now playing in theaters.
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