Inside I’m Dancing

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: James McAvoy, Steven Robertson, Romola Garai, Brenda Fricker, Gerard McSorley
Director: Damien O’Donnell

Rory (James McAvoy) is your basic twenty-something year-old man with all the normal desires that come at that age. Mainly he just wants to be free to do whatever he wants to do when he wants to do it. There is only one problem Rory happens to suffer from a degenerative muscle wasting condition that has completely restricted him to wheelchair use and his attempts to get funding to live on his own have all failed due to his well documented rebellious nature. On the other side of the spectrum is Michael (Steven Robertson). He suffers from cerebral palsy and is a picture perfect example of a ‘by-the-rules’ patient who is totally unaware of what the outside world has to offer and as such is content with his institutionalised life. Fate brings these two young men together as Rory gets transferred to Carrigmore (‘a special home for special people’).

When Michael and Rory first meet Michael immediately dislikes Rory because he feels that Rory is nothing but trouble but then he discovers that Rory is the only person who can fully understand what he says, as he suffers from a severe speech disorder that makes his speech very hard to understand. Rory and Michael soon become very close and as Rory is turned down yet again for his independent living grant, Michael decides to apply for it himself. Michael succeeds and hires Rory as his full time live in language coach. After a chance encounter with a beautiful spirited girl, Siobhan (Romola Garai), in a pub and after several failed interviews with prospective personal assistants for them they decide to offer her the job to which she agrees to only after Rory convinces her that she can do it.

As the two lads begin to settle into their new life out in the real world they both begin to get a bit too attached to Siobhan particularly Michael who falls head over heels in love with her. When Michael confesses to Siobhan about the love he feels for her, she rejects him and ultimately leaves the job. Michael breaks down and wants to go back to the safety and predictability of Carrigmore but Rory manages to talk him out of it. Just as they both seem to finally be settling down into their new lives the truth behind Rory’s rebellious nature reveals itself with devastating effects for both of them.

Damien O’Donnell succeeds in giving good direction to a movie that could have easily slid into emotional overdrive but instead tries to paint a fairly real picture of disabled life and how much you may be forced to sacrifice because you are disabled.

There are some very strong performances across the board with James McAvoy displaying his character’s lust for life and Steven Robertson perfectly capturing the essence of a man who is trapped but doesn’t know it, then finally understanding the meaning of freedom and how important it is even if, and probably more so, when you are disabled. Romola Garai is in fine form as the independent girl who treats her two disabled employers like she would anyone else, with all the pitfalls that one can expect in a relationship.

Worth the trip to the cinema for a nice uplifting dramatic experience.

3 out of 6 stars