'The David Dance': Film Review

Courtesy of Brave Lad Films
A heartfelt but muddled story of opening up to life.

The host of a gay radio talk show struggles to be as assertive in life as he is on air.

Boldness on the airwaves is no substitute for actual living in The David Dance, April Winney's adaptation of Don Scime's stage play about a shy talk-show host (Scime) being forced to practice what he preaches. The story's core dilemma, in which a gay man must push himself outside his comfort zone in his conservative hometown, will be appreciated by many viewers as this heartfelt picture begins touring North America in one-off bookings, as will a preoccupation with America's attitude toward "nontraditional" family structures. But sluggish storytelling and other dramatic failings will keep it from connecting with a broader audience.

Reprising the role he played onstage, Scime is the popular host of Gay Talk; but his on-air moniker, "Danger Dave," could hardly be less descriptive of the shy, maybe self-loathing man he is outside the studio. We meet David just as he's wrapping up his final show, having been fired for reasons we won't understand anytime soon; thus begins a rather tortured structural scheme in which we bounce back and forth through time for unknown reasons.

Soon we've hopped back to before the death of David's sister and best friend Kate, watching a long discussion of her decision to adopt a child by herself. She wants David to agree to be a father figure, but he balks at first — one of many (sometimes annoying) ways in which this 36-year-old man is unwilling to act like a grown-up.

Another is his confusing reluctance to act when a new technical assistant at his radio station clearly has a crush on him. Chris (Guy Adkins) is attractive, smart and patient — and he'll need to be, because even once they've started hanging out, the film waits an artificially long time to give the couple their first kiss.

That's one of the movie's more forgivable contrivances. More problematic is the climactic scene in which David learns his sister has died in the midst of an on-air debate with a conservative Christian figure over family values: Here, dramatic implausibilities pile up dangerously.

Though frustrating, the timidity of Scime's character will be familiar enough to many viewers to make us sympathize with him. But in trying to dramatize his inner conflict with one too many subplots and a clumsily fractured chronology, The David Dance makes too many wrong moves.

Venue: Cinepolis Chelsea
Production company: Brave Lad Films
Cast: Don Scime, Guy Adkins, Antoinette LaVecchia, Jordan Baker, Tonye Patano, Juju Stulbach, Lauren Lopes
Director: April Winney
Screenwriter-producer: Don Scime
Director of photography: Ian McGlocklin
Production designer: Brian Rzepka
Costume designer: Stephani Lewis
Editor: Erin Druez
Composer: Marc Jackson
Casting director: Brette Goldstein

Not rated, 107 minutes

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