Strictly Ballroom ★★★½

Ambitions and passion join together in Baz Luhrmann’s directorial début, which is an extravagantly theatrical story concerned with conquering fear. It rigorously incorporates laughter and tears along with mockumentary-style interviews into a narrative that observes the phenomenally galvanised desire of an independently minded dancer to dance idiosyncratically; jeopardising his career opportunities with unprecedented routines and a new partner.

It develops to a somewhat inevitable yet commendable melodramatic culmination when the central protagonists of Scott and Fran, played by Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice, put on a display at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championships. Catherine Martin relinquishes some marvellous production design, and together with the paradisaical costumes and Jill Bilcock’s pleasing editing, Strictly Ballroom not for a moment fails to deliver a whirlwind of comedic fantasy. Luhrmann arranges the beautiful results together with some poignant tragedy to develop a bizarre cinematic world of artificial caricatures yet one which contains a tangible heart and soul.