Directed by Nicholas Hytner. USA. 2001.

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Centre Stage - rather predictably - can only be described as little more than an awfully dull descendant from Fame - not because it is like Fame but because it doesn't try to be anything else. This, of course makes the film and its storyline as formulaic and calculated as the dance steps themselves, while the brat-pack dancers are contrived cliches who cannot pull their concentration away from the mirrored walls of the dance studios. Whilst one may be compassionate towards the protagonist, one can't help wondering why she wants to make it in a profession that deforms, deprives and seems to devalue, making the storyline as difficult to like as the characters. Indeed, a complete love of dance is essential to enjoy this film, and while the sequences are all excellently choreographed highlights, they are also too long and drawn out. Centre Stage is a gourmet feast for dance enthusiasts but brain mush for anyone who needs a bit more than men in tights to whet their appetite, and while the general message is fairly positive and harmless, the film threatens to trivialise the kinds of pressures on dancers that are, Iím sure, very real.   

The climactic showcase sequence in which the whole plot is replayed through an apparently unrehearsed but immaculate ballet piece is a pointless waste of film stock, while the fairy tale ending is just plain creepy in the 'all's-well-that-ends-well' tradition of filmmaking. Centre Stage  belly flops rather than pirouettes, and loses any style it may have had, on its way down.

Amy Johnson
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