the road dance
starring: hermione corfield, will fletcher, morven christie, and mark gatiss
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A young girl lives in the Outer Hebrides in a small village in the years just before WWI. Isolated and hard by the shore , her life takes a dramatic change when a terrible tragedy befalls her.
Kirsty MacLeod (Hermione Corfield) dreams of a better life away from the isolation that suffocates her in a small village on an island in the Outer Scottish Hebrides. Suppressing these aspirations, she sees her lover Murdo (Will Fletcher) conscripted for service in the First World War, soon to set off and fight alongside the other young men from the village. A road dance is held in their honour the evening before they depart, and it’s on this fateful evening that Kirsty’s life takes a dramatic and tragic turn.
While there have been many tales from the battlefields of the First World War, The Road Dance is wholly original in that it's a tale of the lives of those left behind as the young men from their island head off to war. Central to the plot is a horrendous assault which is handled both with extreme sensitivity all the while never letting the audience escape from the weight of it either.
And this is where the power lies in this story. The Road Dance begins like some weepie costume drama with a world war as its backdrop, with all the old fashioned and storybook like sensibilities to boot. But after the assault it becomes so much more than that. It becomes complex with a real depth, breaking perceptions as it goes. Although the last sequence feels a little rushed, the characterizations and narrative beats of the film soar as it twists and turns, pulling you deep into the heart of the story. You will need tissues.
Writer and director Ritchie Adams also uses the harsh yet gorgeous, isolated landscape of the Scottish Outer Hebrides Islands and Murdo’s stories of war from the front as a mirror to the inner turmoil that Kirsty wrestles with following her assault.
Hermione Corfield is one of those actresses who seems to have been on the periphery of stardom for a while. With The Road Dance she has arrived. There is both an intensity and broken vulnerability about her performance while never stooping to overplaying her hand.
Harrowing yet hope filled, The Road Dance is an old fashioned tale of the best kind with a tale that will draw you in and keep you engrossed throughout.