Swedish film Dancing Queens flaunts a “Cyrano de Bergerac” narrative in a unique premise. The film follows a 23-year-old Swedish girl living on Hemon island (Gothenburg). Dylan Petterson aspires to become a professional dancer, fulfilling the dreams of her late mother. But due to a grieving father and ailing grandmother, she is trapped in the Swedish archipelago. Her days start with looking after her father’s store and end with watching her late mother’s dancing videos. Yet, somewhere she keeps her dreams alive. Her only outlet is the dance school she runs where she teaches the kids of the community.
The turn of events occurs when Dylan’s grandmother urges her to audition for a new dance show. Although Dylan doesn’t want to miss the chance, the weight of responsibilities pulls her down. Yet, she listens to her calling and visits Gothenburg, only to find out that the audition was a month ago and her grandma might have mixed up the dates. Dylan plans to go back and continue her dance school when a cleaning lady, Bettan, makes her an offer that would eventually change her life. Bettan convinces Dylan to replace her on the job that requires cleaning the studio where a Drag Queen Company rehearses daily.
Dylan is hesitant at first, but the performance of the lead choreographer, Victor, captivated her attention. She decides to give it a try for a week, in a hope to learn something from Victor. Little did she know, that fortunate turn of events will make her a drag queen too.
Cyrano de Bergerac narratives have been used in rom-coms quite extensively, but using it in a drag queen premise was extraordinary. Each character in the movie, be it Drag Queen Tommy, Dancer Victor or Dylan herself, struggles with their identities. The film themicatally explores the idea that art is gender-neutral. The audience should be interested in the art and not in the gender of the artist. The latter is just a gossip.
As stated, all the character graphs, thus, dealt with facing one’s real identity and accepting it without being regretful about it. For example, Dylan’s childhood friend Sebbe faced a similar crisis and gracefully met his closure in the end. The film released in “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” subtly lauds the struggles and efforts of the individuals of the community.
Even with all its music, dance and drama, Dancing Queens fail to make a striking impact. At points, the plot is unbearably stretched without any required motive. The characters are unique, but often they fail to make a stand. For them, leaving the stage is a better option than facing an argument. It injects dullness in their actions. The Cyrano de Bergerac’s plot becomes its fatal defect. The plot becomes highly predictable and thus loses its touch. The film is also stuffed with repetitive information that only irritates the viewers rather than taking the story forward.
If one is looking for a casual dance drama, Dancing Queens will charm you with its unique premise and folk music. It might not be extraordinary, but it’s not entirely disappointing.
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Dancing Queens is a 2021 musical drama film streaming on Netflix.