High Strung full movie review - A little bit of uh-huh... But that's about it
I managed to get through about a third of the movie before I felt that old, overwhelming glaze of "The Lifetime Movie" wash over the production, with its smiling, sunny "everything will be all right BECAUSE this is a Lifetime Movie" feeling completely ruining the flow.
Then the flow died. And I was left drudging through the remainder of the film, like a kid wading his boots through three feet of snow. Eventually, your legs just HURT.
Nicholas Galitzine is the only show-pony here, unfortunately with more potential than delivery (though I will confidently lay that at director Michael Damian's feet). Of all of the characters here, his was the most pulling.
I don't necessarily think that Keenan Kampa was phoning it in, but that's not a good thing in this kind of production. If your director insists on a soft delivery, it's best to get your punches in where you can, and Keenan never does. Her character does questionable things, has strange reactions to things that don't make sense to me (boy in question did not jump at your offer, so? I guess that means you're not friends anymore?). Only the scene with Paul Freeman (he was Belloq in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) was one of near-perfection, where he has an almost intimate moment with the perfection of her dance, and that literally is my favorite scene of the movie. It even had Nicholas peering in through the window to illustrate its breathtaking brilliance.
I did enjoy the performance scenes, except for the battling dance crews in the subway. That part seemed to detract from the overall story, as the main characters were deleted in order to show off the abilities of the supportive friends that would later help define the final act. I get the idea? You need to set them up to deliver the final blow? But I think the final blow would have been all the more powerful if it were done from a bunch of dancers who practiced regularly in an apartment and never showed it outside than a group who showed it and won in a subway street-fight. Losers becoming winners is ALWAYS more impressive than winners who keep on winning.
Lastly, Sonoya Mizuno (Keenan's room-mate) just had no impact on me whatsoever. She is part of the reason why the production sang of "Lifetime Movie" instead of "Hollywood film". From the smiling, automatic friendship (just because they're room-mates) to the forced artificial relationship problems (and forced fake-fight between her and Keenan), she brought nothing to the screen except sex appeal. And? I guess that's fine, on some level? But she was never defined any further than eye-candy. You could have had Keenan live alone and the movie would be exactly the same as it was.
I suppose I should mention Jane Seymour at some point, but she didn't do nearly enough to impress me as Paul Freeman did. If you're going to do a role because you're getting up there in years (and believe me I have NOTHING but sympathy for that), you should at least have that one scene in the movie that tells the audience who you are. When Paul and Keenan have that scene involving her impressive positioning, it felt like the teacher and the student, OUTSIDE of the story-line, a great actor handing down his knowledge to a younger, less experienced one. Jane never had a moment like that. And that is a shame.
Overall I did not enjoy this movie. I am a person who likes stakes, likes edge. This movie had none of it. Potential all around, and a few good scenes (the payoff at the end also worked for me), but overall just another Sunday on television when you're too tired to pay real attention to what you're watching, and won't remember much about it anyway a week from now.