Following her sister's death from drug addiction, a high school student is forced to leave her private school to return to her old, crime-filled neighborhood where she re-kindles an unlikely... Read allFollowing her sister's death from drug addiction, a high school student is forced to leave her private school to return to her old, crime-filled neighborhood where she re-kindles an unlikely passion for the competitive world of step dancing.Following her sister's death from drug addiction, a high school student is forced to leave her private school to return to her old, crime-filled neighborhood where she re-kindles an unlikely passion for the competitive world of step dancing.
"How She Move" is a curious creature, a Canadian film that actually doesn't try to be set in America, or be about Americans. Notice my choice of words, though- it is an absence of a negative, not an outright positive. Even though Brooklin and Baltimore are mentioned directly by name, and a large section of the film is set (though not filmed) in Detroit, the only references to Canada are oblique: "T-Dot" "Scarborough" and "Jane Street Junta". Too bad the average American film-goer has no idea what those terms mean.
Even the one shot of Canadian money is the backside of our $20.00 bill, the one Canadian banknote that is the same colour as the US Greenback.
The settings are generic North American urban ghetto, with the high irony of the actual Jane-Finch corridor exterior shots not being gritty enough to pretend they have street cred, so the film crew travels to Hamilton Ontario to ramp up the film's "ghettoness". Not one exterior establishing shot to proudly proclaim "This is Canada".
At least the interior shots of the characters homes are authentic and ring true to some tenements in the Jane-Finch area.
The film even downplays the Caribbean origins of most of the characters, but not to any degree that it downplays its Canadian-ness. But, "downplay" is not "ignore" and there are many subtle references that only someone familiar with the Caribbean colony in Toronto would understand. And I use the phrase "Caribbean Colony" with deliberate purpose.
The story itself is generic to many American films of the same ilk. It is still a valid story, in a sense, since various methods of uplift have always been aspirations of marginalized communities. It is as true in Toronto as any other city in North America.
And the story is told with uncommon passion and integrity, from the characters' and actors' levels.
What really shines in this film is the showcase of Toronto talent. To be sure, all this talent would love to kiss Canada goodbye for a lucrative career in the U.S., but they grew up here, and here is where they are currently shining! That too is part of Canadian culture, but no American would understand that.
To my American friends, I mean no slight- I personally think you are big enough to embrace a true Canadian story if it has the production values that you are used to in your cinema. The mavens in Hollywood are so conservative though that you continue to get spoon-fed pap, and only rarely are you served true art with a degree of risk attached. When films have to make back a $150 Million budget, the owners of that money tend to be risk adverse! This film is getting a wide release in the United States. MTV Films has had a hand in it's financing or distribution, hence the reason why its Canadian-ness is being downplayed. But, in 2008, this is the best Canada can do in bringing its stories to you...by making them seem like YOUR stories.
What a timid little country Canada is! Couldn't any of my tax money put one Canadian flag in a scene? A real TTC bus? A shot of CW Jefferies Collegiate? A Jane Street or Driftwood Avenue street sign? How much risk is there in that?
- Jan 26, 2008