Harvey Critic - 05/06

JIG (2011), Grade: B

Step aside Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. A bunch of kids are dancing up a storm and by the time they're your age, they might jump the high standards that you've set in terpsichorean splendor. In the spirit of contests that consider you an old man or woman by the time you're fifteen or twenty (think of "Spellbound," in which ability to spell gains awards only if you're under the age of fifteen), Sue Bourne presents "Jig," about contest perhaps unknown almost anywhere in the U.S. but one considered virtually a life-and-death struggle if you're into Irish dance.

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Screen Media
Reviewed for Arizona Reporter
By Harvey Karten

Grade: B
Directed By: Sue Bourne
Written By: Sue Bourne
Screened at: Critics' DVD, NYC, 6/4/11
Opens: June 17, 2011

The 93-minute documentary centers on the fortieth Irish Dancing World Championship, held that year in Glasgow, where three thousand (count ‘em) dancers not only from Ireland and Northern Ireland together with their parents and relatives, spend a week getting dressed in campy costumes and wigs, get made up by their folks and teachers, and compete for several world titles.

While less than half the film's moments take place in Glasgow, the principal segments deal with the preparation of the young students in Ireland, Holland, Britain, America and Russia, and include one Sri Lankan teen adopted by a Dutch family, whose fanatical interest in Irish dancing expresses the old saw "It's a small world after all."

The coaches give the kids lots of tough love, berating them, encouraging them, patting them on the back and showing their disapproval. Laziness does not exist, though perhaps the contestants are fully aware that they are being photographed and that their expressions will be captured forever, shown here in the U.S. beginning June 17.

Since this is a doc, we get the usual talking heads, generally of parents and also from some of the articulate youngsters. Subtitles should be required, however, as the lilt heads almost to the difficulties of Americans as does the Scottish brogue.

The dancing is not unlike tap, particularly when the rounds call for "heavy shoes" and the tension that grips the young people and their families when scores are tallied liken this competition to major soccer events.

Rated PG. 93 minutes. © 2011 Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online.

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