DIRECTOR: Michael Damian LEAD CAST Keenan Kampa, Nicholas Galitzine, Jane SeymourSCREENWRITER: Michael Damian & Janeen Damian PRODUCER: Michael Damian & Janeen Damian EDITOR: Michael & Janeen Damian/Peter CabadaHagan & Byron Speight MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Nathan Lanier GENRE: Drama/Romance CINEMATOGRAPHER: Viorel Sergovici LOCATION: USA RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3.5
CINEMA rating: V13 (Viewers aged 13 and below with parental guidance)
Midwest ballet student Ruby Adams (Keenan Kampa) goes to New York as a scholar at the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts. Johnnie Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine) is a gifted British violinist who plays for money at the subway station. Ruby’s extraordinary talent is recognized by school authorities but she is challenged to go beyond mere technique, lest she lose her scholarship. Similarly, Johnnie has a problem with his non-immigrant status. Ruby and Johnnie meet, and under the circumstances a friendship is born. The all-technique dancer and the all-soul violinist are both high strung (pardon the pun) over their problems, try to help each other out, and in the process fall in love. Or is it the other way around?
With a plot like that, High strung is a foregone conclusion. Like all the dance-centered flicks young audiences love like Step up and Fame, its story is written to show off performances. Its 27-year old star Kampa is a real-life ballerina and has been dancing since she was four years old—this is her first movie, and she’s here for the dance, so she’s not really an actress in that sense. Nonetheless, she delivers well, the dance floor being her real world—she can emote as her role demands, and she executes enviable splits in mid-air. Galitzine on the other is said to have studied violin, but let the virtuosos judge how well the actor with a pout does it here. Performances from the other dancers are engaging, and the final piece that blends ballet and contemporary moves is really refreshing.Thus, despite the clichés, High strung is not that bad, really; in fact, it pleases in that it highlights certain desirable human traits like closeness between mother and daughter, honesty of shop keepers, hard work, true friendship, self-mastery, etc. Unlike most “dance” movies with the lead couple getting hot over each other, here there are no “bad examples” for young viewers. It’s the couple’s transformation and their transcendence over their individual situation that are underscored. The uptight ballerina learns to loosen up and therefore becomes a superior dancer, the brooding violinist opens up to his friendly neighbors and… well, all is well that ends well. If you want exuberance and energy in a movie, this is it.