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  • Dance with the One | Review

    SXSW FILM 2010

    By | March 23, 2010

    Director: Mike Dolan

    Writers: Smith Henderson, Jon Marc Smith

    Starring: Gabriel Luna, Xochitl Romero, Gary McCleery, Mike Davis, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, J.T. Coldfire, Barry Tubb, Paul Saucido, Danielle Rene, Michael John Hurley

    Nate (Gabriel Luna) lives at home in order to take care of his little brother Sitter (Mike Davis) and their alcoholic good-for-nothing hippie dad, Owen (Gary McCleery). In order to pay his family’s bills, Nate works for his girlfriend Nikki’s (Xochitl Romero) father (Paul Saucido) as a small time pot dealer.

    When his boss receives a shipment of $1 million in hash that he needs to store, Nate jumps at the opportunity to go big time and earn some extra cash. He stores the hash in an old shed on his family’s property (where his deceased mother’s old things are also stored). Nate doesn’t tell anyone where the drugs are stored, but the hash quickly goes missing. All hell breaks loose as Nate must protect his family from the mean old drug-runner who wants his product back. For many years, Nate has wanted nothing more than to run away with his childhood sweetheart Nikki and get the hell out of Texas – now if he survives he might be left with no other option.

    One thing that Dance with the One deserves some credit for is bringing Hispanic characters to the forefront of the story; in fact, most of the primary characters (and more importantly the actors who play those characters) are Hispanic. This is something we rarely see on the silver screen – especially in dramas. Unfortunately, in doing this, Dance with the One relies on an all too common stereotype – that most Hispanics are drug dealers. I’m sick of seeing Hispanic characters portraying drug dealers (and gang members) – c’mon I want to see more positive and uplifting roles.

    There are some amazing performances in Dance with the One – most notably Gabriel Luna and Xochitl Romero. They both bring some much needed naturalness to this film and their onscreen chemistry is pretty amazing. I wish they had better written dialogue to work with, but they did the best with what they were given.

    But then, there is McCleery…who approaches his role with a ridiculous amount of comedy and cheese (both as the drunk, then as the hero). His character is extremely inconsistent – he begins the film as a worthless mess and a horrible father; but once things get ugly for his son, McCleery’s character is suddenly able to think perfectly clearly, act responsibly and take charge. Then, to top it all off – despite his drastic and all too apparent personality change – Nate still complains about how horrible of a father he is. Maybe Nate doesn’t believe that his father could change so drastically and quickly either?

    First-time director Mike Dolan’s Dance with the One is the fifth UT Film Institute and Burnt Orange Productions film to date (the others include: The Quiet, The Cassidy Kids, Homo Erectus, and Elvis and Anabelle).

    Rating: 4/10

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