Fancy Dance


It’s amazing what one film can do for a career, just ask Lilly Gladstone. She’s been a jobbing actress for a number of years but got her big break starring in Martin Scorsese’s 2023 film Killers of the Flower Moon, alongside such impressive acting talent as Leonardo Dicaprio and Robert De Niro.

It’s a performance that got her noticed, won her a Golden Globe, as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. It also opened doors to starring in other projects, such as this Apple TV+ Original, where she plays a woman part of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation Reservation.

boom reviews Fancy Dance
Some just weren't keen on the new casting of Jay and Silent Bob.

Since her sister went missing, Jax (Gladstone) has taken over the parental duties of her niece Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson). She’s 13 years old and looking forward to a big event in the social calendar, the Powwow, which she’s been told by Jax her mother is bound to turn up at.

The pair get along real well, but after some interference from Jax’s dad (Shea Whigham) and his new partner, they think it’s best if they look after Roki from heron in.

The pair have other ideas however, as they take off together, with Jax keen to find her missing sister, as well as attend the powwow with Roki as promised. But with the law now out looking for them, their fun family road trip takes more of a darker turn.

boom reviews Fancy Dance
Bike rides are just more fun when they're stolen.

This is the directorial debut of a fictional film for Erica Tremblay, which she also co-wrote, who has previously shot documentaries. And you can kind of tell.

At its heart is the relationship between a niece and her auntie; it’s one that is already fully developed, so there’s none of that angst you get from someone who has had a long lost relation suddenly thrust upon them. And perhaps the fact that it is fully formed adds to the disappointment.

You then have the relationship between father and daughter, that is strained, but it’s obvious that there is love there, or at least, has been in the past.

Then you also have the relationship between Jax and her brother JJ (Ryan Begay), who also happens to a member of law enforcement.

All are held together by the missing sister, by the thinnest of threads, whose whereabouts is unknown.

The pacing is just a little too slow throughout, with the story struggling to find any momentum, despite some fine performances from a strong cast. Certainly the young Deroy-Olson does well in her first big screen role, and the chemistry between her and Gladstone is the glue that holds the whole film together. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to see more of it, or see it truly tested.

And just as you think it might be going somewhere, the film tails off with a fairly flat finale, tying things up all too satisfactorily.

Gladstone once again does well, but again, doesn’t feel as if she was stretched in any capacity, perhaps with her director’s lack of experience telling in that particular department.

Despite showing glimpses of originality, Fancy Dance suffers from a lack of flair as it struggles to sweep its audience off of its feet.

we give this two of five