By Adam Ray Palmer
Our final review from our debut visit to the Edinburgh International Film Festival is the historical drama The Road Dance by American writer and director Richie Adams.
Starring an array of British talent including Hermione Corfield, Mark Gatiss, Will Fletcher and David Brooks; The Road Dance is Adams’ third feature film following his Inventing Adam (2013) and Of Mind and Music (2014) movies.
Inspired by a true story, the Road Dance follows a young woman, Kirsty Macleod, in a coming-of-age story set in a small island community in the years before WW1. Kirsty dreams of the finer things in life, a freedom in the wider world where she isn’t met by the harsh land and strict way of life on the island she calls home. When tragedy strikes multiple times in a short period, her world is turned upside down as her boyfriend is drafted into the war and a village party turns into a nightmare.
The film’s core focus is a budding romance between the two central protagonists, Kirsty (played by Hermione Corfield starring in her sixth film in three years) and Murdo (portrayed by Will Fletcher in his feature film debut before he becomes a household name in The Lord of the Rings TV series). From the outset, a picture is clearly painted for the couple to be a classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
Once Murdo moves on to the Western Front, it’s simply tragedy after tragedy for the innocent Kirsty, as her strong-willed character is dealt with emotional blow after blow. There are several difficult scenes in the two-hour drama where Corfield’s acting skills are put to the test, and she certainly delivers. The fragility of her position as a young, solitary woman is conveyed expertly, producing demanding and challenging sequences to her testament – which is certainly a compliment of course.
Whilst this is a story about one woman’s life in effect, it’s in fact a memoir to women of that era and how they navigated a heavily unfair and unjust male world where decisions were often made for them. The gaze we see the film through is by far the most telling and powerful of filmmaking. It’s harsh orchestral tones throughout, the random acts of close-up panning and the slow, over-bearing camera work really gives you the gist of what women had to put up with – and arguable still do to this day.
The film offers a brutal, yet honest glance of life young women more than likely faced on the Hebridean island with a strict religious society at the turn of the twentieth century. The Road Dance is as much about an amorous couple in a period drama as it is about the struggle of being a lone woman back at home during a war… perhaps I could have ended that sentence at “woman” back in 1916.
Seek this movie out.
Cineroom’s rating: 4.5 stars
The Road Dance is released UK-wide later this year showing in selected cinemas – certificate 12A.