Friday, 4 January 2013

Man Dancin'

I had no idea what to expect from this film which was loaned to me by a colleague. The story has a very strong narrative arc. It is possible to view it as simply a drama. It could easily be seen as a gangster movie - which seems to be how most people interpret it. In essence it is a 'Christ movie".

It is about transformation of communities and individuals, self sacrifice and holding out for a better deal in the world to come. This comes as no surprise when you consider some of the street theatre scenes were Directed by Murray Watts.

There are echoes of Jesus of Montreal in this film - but it lacks the finesse and subtlety of Arcand's masterpiece. The visceral setting of Govan and the bleaker side of Glasgow give this film an edginess that is built on by the acting performances which are all strong. The whole cast of the Passion are present and we even have the throwing down of the thirty pieces of silver! Annas and Caiaphas are beautifully portrayed as the local gangster and the bent senior policeman. Judas, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Peter are all present in an interesting way.

This film unravels a multiplicity of layers. As I said, many read it as a straight drama whilst some see it purely as a gangster movie. Add in the overtones of Catholic/Protestant sectarianism and the mix gets a whole lot more intriguing. The enforced ecumenism is a master-stroke! If ever there was a social setting in need of the transforming words and actions of the Gospel, this is it - but then the people portrayed on screen are in reality types of us, people we would see, meet and be every day.

Whether the Gospel is articulated in Palestine, Beverly Hills, Govan or wherever you happen to be reading this, only serves to demonstrate our universal need of a Saviour and the universality of the effectiveness of salvation on offer. If you enjoy a good drama - watch this film. If you want a Glaswegian gangster movie - watch this film. If you want to see how Jesus Christ can be made real in your community - watch this film. But be warned - transformation sometimes exacts a high price.

Although this film is in many ways original, it is also derivative. I'm glad I watched it but I will reach for Jesus of Montreal in preference every time - unless I'm in Glasgow. I'll give it 6.5/10.

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