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Man Dancin' (2003)

What happens when you want to go straight in a broken city?

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 114 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

Just as Henry Winkler is forever destined to carry the mantle of the Fonz, Alex Ferns looks unlikely to ever truly escape his association with wife-thumping maniac Trevor the Terrible on ‘EastEnders’. So in ‘Man Dancin’, his first big film role, it’s no shockerooney to see him playing largely to type: he’s a Weegie, he’s more than capable of intimidating a few people, he’s pretty handy with his fists, and he stares a lot.

But ‘Trevor: The Movie’ this film ain’t. Sure, as ex-con Jimmy Kerrigan he’s a bit of a hard nut – but it doesn’t take long to suss out that he’s also the good guy. Having been in the nick for the best part of the last decade, he returns to his native Glasgow determined to put his gun-running past behind him and make a fresh start. In one of the more bizarre movie twists of recent years, he even goes as far as to sign up with his local church drama group (in fact, it’s fair to say he ends up getting a wee bit carried away with all the theatre stuff). The only trouble is, his criminal background has an annoying habit of refusing to go away.

Some of the acting on show here is less than brilliant (James Cosmo is another one playing predictably to type as a burly crime lord) and, given the subject matter, director Norman Stone doesn’t quite manage to fend off all incoming clichés. The clunky religious overtones also become increasingly cringe-worthy, such is their throbbing obviousness.

Having said all that, there’s something very watchable about this film’s total rawness. The sudden switches in tone from generic drama to at-times shocking violence (one scene featuring Tam White’s blind guitar-strummer is particularly disturbing) are guaranteed to keep you on your toes as a viewer. ‘Man Dancin’ is, it has to be said, highly unlikely to be seen by a great number of people, and it looks certain to disappear from the cinematic map as quickly and quietly as it arrived. But if you’re not put off by thuggery, neds, amateurish street plays and an unusually high number of main characters with moustaches, you might be pleasantly surprised.

It's Got: Coco-Pops with Sunny D. Pure magic by the way, big man.

It Needs: White shellsuits, bottles of Buckfast, and baseball caps peaked to the heavens.


Do not, under any circumstances, go to watch this with anyone called “Little Mo”.