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Inside I'm Dancing (2004)

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 104 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

It’s perhaps a little ironic that an actor’s best performance can come when he’s stuck in a wheelchair and spends an entire film moving nothing more than his face and a couple of fingers. But that’s exactly the case for James McAvoy, the Scottish actor who, after appearances in the likes of ‘Bright Young Things’ and ‘Wimbledon’, finally shows exactly what he’s capable of as Rory, the muscular dystrophy sufferer who shakes up the lives of all around him in ‘Inside I’m Dancing’.

The film’s opening sees rebellious nu-metal-loving Rory arrive at Dublin’s Carrigmore Home for the Disabled, a cold, clinical establishment proudly advertising itself as “a special home for special people”. It’s here he meets Michael (Steven Robertson), a man whose cerebral palsy has left him unable to talk in anything more than a moaned mumble, and the pair strike up a remarkable friendship.

Working together, they’re able to secure themselves an Independent Living deal from the authorities, a modern ground floor flat in the middle of town, and – best of all as far as Michael’s concerned – the personal assistance of pretty party girl Siobhan (Romola Garai, lighting up the screen as usual).

Written by Jeffrey Caine and helmed by Damien O’Donnell (his previous credits include ‘Heartlands’ and ‘East Is East’), the film aims for both the heart-strings and the funny bone – and, more often than not, it manages to find both of its targets. It contains several memorable comic moments, such as when Rory and Michael use a couple of charity collections buckets to go out on the lash at a local nightspot.

Indeed, the liberal use of comedy helps the picture get the balance just right between putting its message across and not being too preachy. Sure, you could say that using a couple of able-bodied actors to play the two leads goes at least some way towards defeating the purpose – but I dare say that’s an issue that won’t cross most viewer’s minds, and certainly didn’t ruin my appreciation of what is a very good film.

It's Got: Some always-enjoyable footage of ‘Bagpuss’.

It Needs: Rory to rethink his abysmal taste in music. I mean, seriously, Slipknot?? The guy’s not twelve, for God’s sake!


A moving tale of the fun that can be had sitting down.