Darker and more tragic than his previous hit, “House of Angels,” Swedish-based Brit director Colin Nutley’s eagerly awaited latest work is a less comforting look at Swedish jealousy and envy through the story of two pairs of competing dance couples. Fine pic looks set to score locally (if not on the scale of “Angels”) and is a natural for major fests and specialized offshore distribution.
Whereas “Angels” was set in the Swedish countryside, “Dance” takes place in the very different surroundings of Stockholm, Barbados and the northern U.K. resort town of Blackpool. Main characters are two married couples, Tove/Claes and Liselott/Lennart, friendly rivals in the world of ballroom dancing.
Tove is jealous that Liselott/Lennart always win and, following an incident in Oslo, hasn’t spoken to them for nine months. A further cause for tension is the fact that Tove can’t have kids, whereas Liselott repeatedly gets pregnant and has abortions.
The four are brought together again by the death of Claes’ mother, but, during a joint vacation to Barbados, strains resurface both between and within the couples. Final resolution is set at a masters competition in Blackpool.
Pic opens with Liselott lying dead on the Blackpool seafront at night. Story is then told in flashbacks, interspersed with scenes of ballroom dancing in which Tove/Claes seem to be on their way to their first victory.
Thanks to lots of small, everyday comic touches and fine performances by all the principals — especially Reine Brynolfsson as Tove, the most sympathetic of the four — Nutley manages to create moving, human portraits of vulnerable people who are unhappy in their personal lives and want out. Smaller character roles, such as a Blackpool police inspector (Philip Jackson), also are well-drawn.
Tech credits are tops, with Jens Fischer’s superb lensing, especially of Stockholm during early summer mornings, rating special mention.