How She Move

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Arriving almost exactly one year after the surprise boxoffice hit "Stomp the Yard" is this grittier, Canadian-made drama also showcasing the exhilarating urban dance form.

Considering that it features the sort of cliched story line that wouldn't have been out of place in an Andy Hardy movie, "How She Move" doesn't exactly break any new ground. But the terrific dance numbers on display should please its teenage target audience.

Set in the gritty Jane-Finch Corridor of Toronto, the film depicts the travails of young Raya Green (Rutina Wesley), the daughter of hard-working Jamaican immigrants. It looked like Raya, a terrific dancer as well as brilliant student, was on the fast track out of the ghetto, thanks to her acceptance into an exclusive prep school. But when her sister dies of a drug overdose, she's forced to return to the public school in her own neighborhood where she started her education.

But she thinks she's found a way back out in the form of a dance competition featuring a major cash payoff. She persuades the members of the all-male "Jane Street Junta" to allow her to join their dance outfit led by the charismatic Bishop (Dwain Murphy). It isn't long before sparks fly between the two, as Raya dazzles him and the other boys in the group with her aggressive dance moves. But her determination to succeed at any cost drives a wedge between her and her fellow troupe members, and Raya ultimately has to decide where her true loyalties lie.

Annmarie Morais' semi-autobiographical script admirably attempts to inject thoughtful sociological ideas into the mix, displaying a thematic complexity uncommon to such teen-oriented genre efforts. But the strength of the film ultimately comes less from the dramatic elements than the highly energetic dance numbers choreographed by Hi Hat that, while not photographed to their best advantage, nonetheless manage to be thrilling.

Director Ian Iqbal Rashid, using mainly 16mm hand-held photography, applies an interestingly gritty touch to the proceedings. Young Wesley displays an intense charisma and powerful moves in the central role, while Melanie Nicholls-King is deeply moving as Raya's concerned Mom.

HOW SHE MOVE
Paramount Vantage
MTV Films
Credits:
Director: Ian Iqbal Rashid
Screenwriter: Annmarie Morais
Producers: Jennifer Kawaja, Julia Sereny, Brent Barclay
Director of photography: Andre Pienaar
Production designer: Aidan Leroux
Music: Andrew Lockington
Co-producer: Claire Prieto
Costume designer: Kimberley Ann Rush
Editor: Susan Maggi
Cast:
Raya Green: Rutina Wesley
Bishop: Dwain Murphy
Michelle: Tre Armstrong
Quake: Brennan Gademans
Trey: Shawn Desman
E. C.: Kevin Duhaney
Faye Green: Melanie Nicholls-King
Running time -- 90 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
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