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Despite the patronage of executive producer John Legend, this flavourless dance film took three years to find distribution. Now that it’s here, it doesn’t drag its feet so much as shuffle them with bland indifference. Writer-director John Swetnam has given the boilerplate narrative that underlaid his Step Up 4 screenplay a vaguely zeitgeisty twist, in that Californian suburbanite Casey (Sophia Aguiar) spends her downtime choreographing YouTube clips with her Doritos-ad pals. Can she retain her integrity after a big shot sweeps in with plans to make her a star?
There follow 101 minutes of inanities and inconsistencies, without a consoling trace of the genre’s fleeting pleasures. Again, these teens bemoan their lowly place in the gig economy while hanging out in a loft space with a six-figure scatter-cushion budget; the incongruous reference one emergent body-popper makes to Wayne’s World marks the film as the work of middle-aged men. They have scrimped money elsewhere. Unlike the studio-backed Step Ups, this indie doesn’t have the resources to nab the big hitters, so we instead get a low-watt cameo from popstrel Anitta (“She’s the Katy Perry of Brazil!”) and market-stall knock-offs of recent chart sounds.
In an ideal world, any dance movie’s predictable narrative manoeuvres would be disrupted by the dynamism of its set pieces, but Breaking Through fails to function even on the basic level of cobbled together talent showcase. The routines Swetnam commits to film are framed with zero flair; more thought has gone into prominently positioning one YouTube channel’s logos, and crowbarring talk of branding, shingles and cross-promotional traffic between glib platitudes and awkward burps of exposition. The comparatively innocent delights of the Mashed Potato – heck, even the Macarena – seem a very long time ago.
Source: The Guardian
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