Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Morris A Life With Bells On: Movie Review

Morris A Life With Bells On
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Chas Oldham, Derek Jacobi, Ian Hart, Dominique Pinon
Director: Lucy Akhurst
Morris dancing - it doesn't sound like your average choice for a film.
However, this spoof doco about the perils faced by the world of Morris could change that.
Set in rural England, a documentary team follows the life of Derecq Twist.
Actor Chas Oldham is Twist, a young morris dancer whose moves have set the world of the dance alight and whose thoughts of modernization are causing ripples within the governing body who oversee all things bells and sticks.
However, Twist is expelled from his local group and cast asunder from the UK world of Morris dancing by the powers that be.
So Twist heads abroad to follow his fame and worldwide reputation and its there that he starts to realize that while you can take the man out of morris dancing, you cant take the morris dancing out of the man.
This mockumentary is quite a gentle film - if you're blessed with a knowledge of rural parts of England and their quaint ways (thatched cottage roofs and slightly accented speaking) it may well appeal to you a little more than the average viewer.
There's a casual charm to the central cast; Twist's wrapped up in his morris ways but he has a disarming attitude which hooks you in from the start. Derek Jacobi as Quentin Neely, the head of the morris dancing organisation, is full of the pompous self importance and priggery you often find on jumped up committees worldwide. And as for the cameo by Pinon (Delicatessen) as the French sailor who washed up on the shores and discovered the joys of the Lord of the dance, well, quelle amusement there.
The humour is sly and wry there is a lot of casual throwaway comments which will catch you out if you're not paying attention. A lot of the dialogue is very similar in places to Spinal Tap at one point, one character says they are all about the 3 Ps - passion, practice and the desire to be best. It's that kind of subtle humour which reels you in without realizing.
There is actually plenty of serious Morris Dancing (aside from the American Backstreet boys style number) which shows the cast, while slyly mocking the subject, clearly has a lot of admiration for how it's done.

Morris A Life With Bells On is an antidote to the bigger Christmas blockbuster fare - it's got rural rustic charm all over it and will leave you with a wry grin through out.

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