Movie Review: Dance Me Outside (1994)

Title:Dance Me Outside
Release Date: October 16, 1994
Director: Bruce McDonald
Production Company: Yorktown Productions | Shadow Shows | Cineplex Odeon Films

The main plot of Dance Me Outside is the murder of an indigenous woman by a white man on a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario, and the efforts of the community to find justice and revenge.  But several stories interweave with the main plot.  The central character is Silas Crow (Ryan Black), a directionless young man delaying his application for a college automobile mechanics course.  His activist girlfriend Sadie Maracle (Jennifer Podemski) breaks up with him because she doesn’t want to get trapped in the rowdy lifestyle of Silas and his goofy best friend Frank Fencepost (Adam Beach).

Meanwhile, their friend Gooch (Michael Greyeyes) returns after three years in prison hoping to revive his romance with Silas’ sister Illianna (Lisa LaCroix).  But in the intervening years Ilianna has married a good-natured but clueless white man Robert McVey (Kevin Hicks).  When they come to visit, the unfinished business between Gooch and Ilianna is apparent.

The movie is based on a novel by W.P. Kinsella (I’ve read a lot of his baseball fiction but was only aware of his work with First Nations characters) and directed by Bruce McDonald, so it definitely has a white perspective despite the indigenous cast.  Nevertheless, it is a good mix of humor and drama that captures aspects of life on the reservation. And since it was made in the early 1990s, the grunge aesthetic is strong.  As an added bonus, the great Keith Secola’s song “NDN Cars” is not only in the soundtrack but apparently was written for this movie!

Rating: ***1/2

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