Amovie ideally suited for viewers just like its protagonist (i.e., pubescent girls), "Dancing on the Moon" covers familiar the-summer-I-grew-up terrain in agreeable, if sometimes precious, fashion. Canadian-Czech co-production is a bit soft on narrative spine for theatrical exposure, but that same episodic quality makes it a broadcast natural.

Amovie ideally suited for viewers just like its protagonist (i.e., pubescent girls), “Dancing on the Moon” covers familiar the-summer-I-grew-up terrain in agreeable, if sometimes precious, fashion. Canadian-Czech co-production is a bit soft on narrative spine for theatrical exposure, but that same episodic quality makes it a broadcast natural.

Maddie (Nathalie Vansier) faces summer vacation with mixed feelings — but then, she’s 13, so a certain prickliness is to be expected. Her older brother picks on her, and she in turn moans about occasional care-taking required by Mom on behalf of both her younger bro and elderly granny. Boys haven’t quite turned up as an interest on her radar yet, though one of her two best friends is already boy-crazy, and a male schoolmate pesters Maddie with incessant attention.

Though she’s initially upset when an older sis leaves for college, Maddie grows excited by the prospect of having the bedroom all to herself. That plan is scotched, however, when vaguely bohemian Aunt Ruth turns up out of the blue. The two bond, after a fashion.

Pic rambles anecdotally through a rather loose series of incidents, though pacing maintains interest. A dance, a wedding, a near-drowning and a classmate’s funeral are among events that spur Maddie’s abandonment of “childish things” — a shift symbolized by her losing dependence on the secret friend (a stuffed animal named Rex) who’d been a longtime confidant/

protector. Latter is visualized via stop-motion animation. This fantasy aspect is technically rather crude and not well integrated into the narrative, but will please younger auds.

Shot in and around Montreal (the family lives in a farmhouse outside a picturesque small town), feature has its sugary and flat moments, but overall stays true to the age group’s p.o.v. Melodrama is soft-pedaled when not avoided entirely. It’s nice to see a family pic in which sibling rivalry and other such issues are given due weight without being inflated to “dysfunctional” status.

Perfs and tech aspects are on the right side of competent, if seldom inspired.

Dancing on the Moon

(CANADIAN-CZECH REPUBLIC)

Production

A Prods. la Fete production. Produced by Rock Demers, Kevin Tierney. Directed by Kit Hood. Screenplay, Jacqui Manning-Albert, Kevin Tierney.

Crew

Camera (color), Michael Caron; editor, Glenn Berman; art direction, Violette Daneau; music, Milan Kymlicka; sound, Ivo Spalj; associate producer, Hood; line producer, Lorrarine Du Hamel. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, Sept. 30, 1997. (In Mill Valley Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Maddie Morrison ..... Nathalie Vansier Freddy Green ..... Michael Yarmush Sarah ..... Elisha Cuthbert Wendy ..... Martine Badgley Emilie Morrison ..... Joanne Cote Joseph Morrison ..... Serge Houde Grandmother ..... Kim Yaroshevskaya Aunt Ruth ..... Dorothee Berryman
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