The Road Dance
Based on the novel by John Mackay, Richie Adams’s The Road Dance is an occasionally emotionally battering yet disappointingly uneven tale of an intimate, seemingly comradely community in the Outer Scottish Hebrides. Set just before the outbreak of WW1, Kirsty MacLeod (Hermione Corfield) dreams of leaving the island behind for a life of adventure across the Atlantic. Murdo (Will Fletcher), a likeminded youngster, begins a courtship with Kirsty, safe in the assumption that his typing ability will protect him from being called to the front lines of battle. As the entire young, adult male population of the village is, however, subsequently conscripted, the community, upon the suggestion of the village doctor (Mark Gatiss), hold a traditional, ultimately fateful, road dance in farewell celebration for the departing young soldiers.
The Road Dance offers a rare entry into the canon of films set in the Outer Hebrides. Along with cinematographer Petra Korner, Adams taps into the cinematic potential of the location, using bruised colour palettes to invoke the equally bruising forces of nature that engulf the island. It feels as though it is the harshness of the elements that knits this community together in their resolve. The film contains a middle act that is surprisingly and effectively brutal in its relentless and unflinching descent into suffering, the film being at its strongest when its bleak heart is at the fore. Accompanying its emotional savagery are moments of pathos that can, at times, be moving.
Adams’s sense of location and direction of set pieces is, however, better than the film’s script – one characterised by uneven swerves towards melodrama and an inability to add much depth to its central character, beyond her suffering.
The Road Dance is released in select cinemas on 20th May 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Road Dance here: