×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jig

Pic takes a whirl through the realm of Irish dancing, that stompy, stiff-armed prancing about that Riverdance made famous.

With:
With: Brogan McKay, Julia O'Rourke, John Whitehurst, Joe Bitter, Sandun Verschoor, Ana Kondratyeva, Simona Mauriello, Claire Greaney, Suzanne Coyle, John Carey.

A late addition to the recently fashionable cycle of sequin-strewn docus about dance competitions featuring driven kids and pushy parents, Brit-made “Jig” takes a whirl through the realm of Irish dancing, that stompy, stiff-armed prancing about that Riverdance made famous. Although there is some insightful observational work, and the dancing itself is aces, pic feels overcrowded with characters. Helmer Sue Bourne skillfully handles the challenging logistics, no surprise given she’s made something of a specialty out of large-ensemble docus for TV, but the result feels oddly flat and underwhelming. Nevertheless, this likable pic should play well to specialty auds.

Part of pic’s core problem is that it focuses on not just one competition and the contestants therein like, say, spelling-bee docu “Spellbound,” but on several parallel contests between dancers of different ages, all competing at the 2010 World Irish Dancing Championships in Glasgow. Consequently, there are too many personal stories and themes (rivalry, triumph over adversity, the nobility of sportsmanlike determination … ) slugging it out here.

Ample crosscutting — beautifully handled, all things considered, by editor Colin Monie — compares and contrasts key players in different meets. Protags include a trio of young women (Simona Mauriello, Claire Greaney, and Suzanne Coyle) chasing the cup in the Ladies 19-21 competish; two extremely different girls (elfin Irish lass Brogan McKay, and set-jawed Yank tyke Julia O’Rourke) both after the Girls 10-11 trophy; and two lone boys (natural talent 10-year-old John Whitehurst, and American-born 16-year-old Joe Bitter) who both train with coach and former champ John Carey. As if that weren’t enough, also in the mix are a group from Moscow with visa problems, and an adopted Indonesian teen (Sandun Verschoor) who was raised in the Netherlands by white parents.

There are plenty of tiaras on show but fewer tantrums than one might expect from the disciplined kids. (The parents and coaches, however, are rather less well behaved.) The result is that the pic is a little lower on drama than it ought to be, a problem compounded by the tension-sapping coverage of the interminable reading of judges’ scores at the end. Meanwhile, with so many bases to cover, Bourne barely has time to touch on potentially more interesting issues such as why this so very intrinsically Irish form of dance should have such appeal across different cultures, or how the boys handle the homophobic bullying they encounter at school.

Relying on use of a second unit pays dividends at the end by allowing auds to see rivals waiting to learn their marks. Quirky touches here and there, and occasional use of slow-motion, adds spice to Joe Russell’s consistently pro lensing. Sound design is a standout.

Popular on Variety

Jig

Docu - U.K.

Production: An Arrow Films release of a BBC Scotland, Creative Scotland presentation in association with Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology of a Wellpark Scotland production. (International sales: Bankside Films, London.) Produced by Sue Bourne. Executive producers, Grant McKee, Ewan Angus, Sam Anthony, Carole Sheridan, Leslie Finlay, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross. Directed by Sue Bourne.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, HD), Joe Russell; editor, Colin Monie; music, Patrick Doyle; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Brill, Cameron Mercer; re-recording mixer, Kahl Henderson; associate producers, Ruth Reid, Sam Emmery; second unit director, Ruth Reid; second unit camera, Andy Payne. Reviewed on DVD, London, May 4, 2011. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Brogan McKay, Julia O'Rourke, John Whitehurst, Joe Bitter, Sandun Verschoor, Ana Kondratyeva, Simona Mauriello, Claire Greaney, Suzanne Coyle, John Carey.

More Film

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” in front, Chinese-made action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend. Although a few American titles are in play, they’ve failed to attract a crowd.  Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' Is Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at the Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the international feature film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed [...]

  • Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar'

    Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar' as Its Oscar Entry

    Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category. Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal [...]

  • Atlantis

    Toronto Film Review: 'Atlantis'

    “It took you 10 years to cleanse this region of Soviet propaganda and myths,” says one character to another in “Atlantis,” going on to suggest that the devastation now left behind may never be “cleansed” at all. A strikingly bleak vision of a near future in which Ukraine has won its war with Russia but [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content