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Starring Adam Garcia, Sophie Lee, Sam Worthington
Screenplay by Steve Worland
Story by Worland, Hilary Linstead and Dein Perry
Directed by Dein Perry

This review by our west coast correspondent, Paul Fischer, who happens to be Australian <g>. For Cranky's review click here. For Paul's StarTalk with Adam Garcia, click here.

Adam Garcia plays the role of a cocky young man, Sean Okden, who often irritates his father as much as he irks his employers. Working in a one-factory steel town in Newcastle, about a couple of hours' ride from Sydney, he makes clear that welding steel is not about to become his life-nor ironically would it long embrace the lives of the rest of the workers in that rapidly declining industry. Determined to make a living in the exceptionally insecure field of tap dancing, he takes a leave from his job to pick up a 3-months' contract with an upper-crust tap troupe in Sydney-but not before meeting and romancing the lovely local beautician Linda (Sophie Lee) who is also the object of affection of Sean's loutish brother Mitchell (Sam Worthington). While Mitchell's sideline of stealing cars gets him into deep trouble with a local gang engaged in the same business, Sean's arrogance makes him persona non grata with the conventional people who hire him. Deciding ultimately to make a calling of tap without leaving his own working-class environs, he choreographs some startling new, brash dances featuring fellow steel workers who perform in work clothes and heavily steeled shoes and who, together with a rock band willing to work for free prepare to stage a concert for the people of their own social class.

It would be very easy to pour scorn over a seemingly simplistic tale about an ordinary Aussie bloke who dreams of becoming a tap dancer and lives that dream. It would be just as easy to draw comparisons between Bootmen and the likes of Strictly Ballroom and, to some degree The Full Monty. In many ways there is nothing new here; after all, the movies have always been designed to indulge our fantasies, and living the impossible dream is the perennial movie fantasy. What makes Bootmen an exceptional film is its high energy approach, skillful direction of first-timer Dein Perry, and the remarkable work of the film's charismatic lead Adam (Coyote Ugly) Garcia. Bootmen is a laconic Aussie musical which borders between an earthy realism and musical fantasy. They are in perfect harmony as it traces the relationship between two brothers, whose aspirations symbolise the variance in tone that emerges throughout the film. Partly autobiographical, Bootmen is the classic story of the nobody who becomes a somebody, even if that somebody remains in the confines of his blue collar environment. This is a film that should reach out to a wide audience, though at its heart, the film is quintessentially Australian. Nicely written featuring a solid collection of characters, it's Adam Garcia that proves how truly talented he is.

Attractive in a real sense, Garcia does it all in this movie, and does it all splendidly. As a tap dancer (which he is by profession), Garcia dances up a storm and is breathtaking to watch. But he is not simply a dancer trying to act. On screen, he has true and genuine charisma, delivering a performance full of range and depth: He's laid back and laconic, emotive, passionate, funny and romantic. It's a wonderful screen performance that is likely to gain even more attention than he already has. Garcia is a bona fide film star, and is the driving force behind this film.

Director Perry, founder of the tap dance troupe Tap Dogs, handles his first feature with consistent energy. His is a visually striking work, which makes creative use of editing and sound to capture and enhance tone, theme and mood. Bootmen is a high energy, toe-stomping piece of exhilarating musical entertainment. It is the kind of film Aussies excel in, and this film does the country proud.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.