The Road Dance

The Road Dance has ambitions to explore the devastating impact of war on isolated communities. It doesn't quite succeed, but it's a handsomely mounted period piece nonetheless

Film Review by Alix Hudson | 25 Apr 2022
  • The Road Dance
Film title: The Road Dance
Director: Richie Adams
Starring: Hermione Corfield, Morven Christie, Mark Gatiss, Will Fletcher, Tom Byrne, Ali Fumiko Whitney
Release date: 6 May
Certificate: 15

The Road Dance is, on the surface, a typical period piece. Following Hebridean teenager Kirsty (Hermione Corfield) as she comes of age amid the height of the First World War, its set-up is unsurprising. Look deeper, however, and you’ll find a film concerned with the devastating impact of war on isolated communities, as well as the harsh realities of patriarchal oppression.

American director Richie Adams’ film is a strikingly beautiful homage to the rough Scottish coastline, and its harsh, isolated setting – a village in the Outer Hebrides – is made more alluring by the undeniable sense of community. Adams’ cast, which boasts some excellent up-and-coming Scottish talent in Corfield, Will Fletcher, Tom Byrne, and Ali Fumiko Whitney, builds a convincing sense of interconnectivity in the village, wherein the loss of one citizen is felt by all.

For all these charms, The Road Dance does succumb to clichés. An enthusiasm for romantic letters read in voiceovers and the ever-looming promise of an escape to America minimise the sensitivity with which Adams attempts to handle certain plot points. It also undermines the film’s portrayal of sexual assault. Instead of an introspective look at the violence and injustice of patriarchy and war, the film leans too heavily into fulfilling period drama genre tropes. 

Adams ultimately fails in his attempt to make a compelling drama concerned with the scars war inflicts on far-flung communities, but as a visually stunning and generally enjoyable period drama, it’s a welcome addition – and a rare Scottish one.

The Road Dance had its UK premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2021, and is released in UK cinemas on 6 May

Alix Hudson is a history student and editor at Se7en Magazine, published out of the University of Edinburgh. She was part of Edinburgh International Film Festival's Young Critics Programme 2021. For more on EIFF's Young Critics Programme, click here

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