The Road Dance Parent Guide
Despite the darkness in the story, this is a movie of hope, courage, and resilience.
Parent Movie Review
Kirsty Macleod is a young woman with big plans. Born on a small croft in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Kirsty wants more than a life spent digging potatoes out of the ground. She and her book-loving fiancé, Murdo MacAulay, plan to emigrate and start fresh in America. But it’s 1916 and Murdo is a British soldier caught up in the maelstrom of the Great War. Duty must come before dreams.
The night before the village boys leave for basic training, the community holds a road dance, featuring toe-tapping fiddle music and plenty of whiskey. Kirsty starts the evening dancing and ends it bloody and broken on the hillside. She has no memory of what happened to her, but within a few months, the consequences of the evening’s attack become inescapable…
The Road Dance brilliantly manages the shifts in tone that come with its tale. All hope, romance, and limpid innocence at the start, the movie soon darkens into a story of fear, pain, and incandescent rage. Director Richie Adams deserves credit for even pacing and stunning cinematography, but the movie’s success comes from its cast. Hermione Corfield dazzles as Kirsty, in turns bright-eyed, traumatized, determined, enraged, grieving, and resilient. There is no barrier between her emotions and the screen: just pure feeling. The same can be said of Will Fletcher as Murdo. He starts off stiff, but he also has a clear-eyed gaze, transmitting his devotion, hope, and resolve directly to the viewer. The leads are ably supported by the rest of the cast, who make the relationships and the village feel real.
Given the story’s plot, it’s not surprising that there is some negative content, although it is all carefully sanitized. A single scene of battlefield violence is brief and not graphic, although seeing families notified of their loss is heartrending. The sexual assault around which the story revolves is shot in such dim light that I had a hard time seeing any of the details, and the camera spends most of its time on Kirsty’s terrified face. That doesn’t reduce the horror of the attack (I felt nauseated watching it) but at least it eliminates graphic sexual detail. There are also on and off-screen suicides and attempted suicides, without blood.
For fans of period movies, The Road Dance offers a satisfying two hours. The story is compelling and occasionally surprising and it depicts the resilience and healing found in family relationships and female solidarity. I found myself alternately furious and gratified, appalled and uplifted as I watched Kirsty chart her path. She truly lives the words of Scottish poet, Robert Louis Stevenson, which are quoted at the start of the film: “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”
Directed by Richie Adams. Starring Hermione Corfield, Will Fletcher, Mark Gatiss, Morven Christie, Ali Fumiko Whitney. Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release October 13, 2023. Updated October 14, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Road Dance
The Road Dance
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Road Dance rated Not Rated? The Road Dance is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: There’s oblique reference to death by drowning and mention of a death by cancer. A woman is attacked and sexually assaulted. There’s mention of death in battle. A man is shot in a scene of combat. A man shoots himself off screen: the gunshot is heard.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. A man punches another. In a very dimly lit scene, a woman is attacked and sexually assaulted. The scene is so dark that detail of the attack is unclear and most of the camera angles show her face, dazed and in pain. She is later seen with facial injuries and blood-stained underwear. Spoiler: A baby dies on screen. A suicidal person jumps off a cliff.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink whiskey at a party and some become intoxicated. A doctor gives a woman medication.
Page last updated October 14, 2023
The Road Dance Parents' Guide
The movie is loosely based on a true story. For more information, you can read:
The Road Dance: An Interview with Will Fletcher and John Mackay
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