Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School is a 2005 remake of a short film of 1990. It is classed under the genre of romance movies and does not fail to give you the goose bumps that a typical romantic film does. The film uses dance a medium of expression and this art form is embraced to bring home the belief that we can achieve a lot by strength of will and determination. Moreover, dance is a powerful drug and it can result in ample benefits if one can face its challenges with a bold appearance. Frank Keene is a grieving baker who is in a sorry state. He commits a car accident. His victim, Steve Mills, who is perceptive and effusive, was headed to Pasadena to meet with a childhood acquaintance.
Steve requests Frank to visit the Marilyn Hotchkiss dance class on his behalf. Frank obeys Steve and goes looking for his acquaintance. The story oscillates back and forth in time including Steve’s childhood, the mishap and the consequence of Frank’s first hop. As one of the well-liked and appreciated romance movies, this one is featured with roads not taken, loneliness, black eyes, the typical behavior of men and heart-touching farewells. Another important aspect of the film is group therapy which is signified through the Hotchkiss dance class. This is a place where couples come together and find self-expression.
Dance is a healing art form and this has its effects not only on Steve, but on Frank as well. It is about two lonely hearts wanting to connect with each other and the victory of love over death. Even when Steve’s heart monitor shows a flat graph, it is Frank’s earnest plea to keep him talking that keeps him alive. Frank even agrees to visit the Marilyn Hotchkiss reunion to help Steve maintain his appointment that was made 40 years back. The director shows the audience that there is no better way for lonely hearts to connect than dancing. The movie Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School can be described as a charming introduction to dance, bordering on valentine themes.
Like most romance movies, the film acts as a bridge for broken and lost souls like Frank who is extremely grievous after the demise (or suicide) of his wife. The star casting is led by the very British Robert Carlyle the widower. He believes in fulfilling the wishes of a dying man (which is to find his long lost love) and for this he shows up at the Marilyn Hotchkiss dance class on a Thursday night. Carlyle gets into the skin of his character by playing a man who is at times embarrassed, surprised, sincere, and affectionate. He is entirely credible as a character overwhelmed with grief, but at the same time, hopes to spring back into life.
It happens that the dance class, headed by the dramatic Mary Steenburgen, is the key to his rebirth. Marisa Tomei, along with most of the other characters, plays a character who yearns for something and someone – the perfect someone. Carlyle gives winning performances on the waltz and Lindy Hop to find his way back into the arms of love again.