Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs, a film about wheelchair ballroom dancing, made by director Susan Seidelman, debuted on the film festival circuit in 2011 and has mostly played there since; it did get a very limited release at one point, but even that ended up getting cut short.  I saw an early screening of it as part of DC’s Reel Abilities Film Festival, which it will close at the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax at 7:30 tomorrow, and if you happen to live near there it’s worth going to.  Or if it shows up at any other festival, or otherwise becomes available for viewing, though unfortunately there don’t seem to be any obvious plans for release on DVD.

It’s certainly not a perfect film; some of the characters are a little cliche and some of the plot points even more so.  But it is a film that feels very alive, not to mention more romantic than anything I’ve seen in some time, occasionally with the cliches, but even then it feels very sweet; if it goes overboard, it revels in it too much for one to quite mind.  The hero may seem almost too good, but that helps with the romance.  In a sea of minorities where the disabled people manage to avoid stereotype while the Puerto Rican characters sometimes are and sometimes aren’t(the mother probably fares the worst; the girl she’s trying to set her son up is surprising in how much better the film treats her), two more different minority characters are much more stereotypical, but you end up cheering for them both anyway, the nurse especially when she has her crowning moment.  The dancing both with and without wheelchairs are fun to watch.  When the credits rolled, I wanted to get up and dance.  One also gets a strong feel of New York City and especially the Puerto Rican community there, since they act as the film’s setting, though the focus isn’t on them.

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