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Shadow Dancing
Shadow Dancing (1988)
  • Director:
    Lewis Furey
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Christine Foster
  • Cast:
    Nadine Van der Velde,Christopher Plummer,James Kee
  • Time:
    1h 40min
  • Year:
Jess, a struggling dancer, is trying out for a part in a musical about Medusa. As she practices, the director notices how much she resembles his former lover, a ballerina who died in a bizarre on-stage accident while performing the exact same dance that Jess is doing. As more unexplainable coincidences surround the production, someone or something must be behind them all. But who? Or what?
Cast overview, first billed only:
Nadine Van der Velde Nadine Van der Velde - Jessica Lilliane
Christopher Plummer Christopher Plummer - Edmund Beaumont
James Kee James Kee - Paul
Gregory Osborne Gregory Osborne - Philip Crest
John Colicos John Colicos - Anthony Podopolis
Charmion King Charmion King - Grace Meyerhoff
Shirley Douglas Shirley Douglas - Nicole
Kay Tremblay Kay Tremblay - Sophie Beaumont
Brent Carver Brent Carver - Alexei
Jennifer Inch Jennifer Inch - Karen
Sandi McCarthy Sandi McCarthy - Patricia
Patric A. Creelman Patric A. Creelman - Charles
Craig Hempsted Craig Hempsted - Matt
Marcia Plummer Marcia Plummer - Judy
Sergio Trujillo Sergio Trujillo - Sam

Shadow Dancing (1988)
"Shadow Dancing" is a bizarre experience: a mystery/thriller/drama set in a "Flashdance"-like environment with an overacting Christopher Plummer doing the male lead. Aside from the unconventional storyline, the movie doesn't offer very much: the direction, the camera-work, the music - everything's just okay, nothing special. It's not bad either. The one and only reason that made me going for this was Nadine van der Velde, the pretty girl from "Critters" and "Munchies". She was a starlet in the 1980s whose career never hit off, and this was her only starring part before she left to become a writer. Her performance as the troubled dancer who delves into the mysterious story is highly convincing, and one wonders why she didn't have a bigger career as an actress. If you like pretty girls, if you are a Nadine van der Velde fan, try to get a tape. It's hard to get, though. 5 out of 10.
"Shadow Dancing" is a merely forgotten thriller about a dancer who becomes the object of her director's obsession because she resembles his former (dead) lover.

A good choreography, some very good songs and the stunning photography (d.p. René Ohashi received a Genie nomination for his outstanding work) make this neat little film quite entertaining and highly watchable.

This was one of Nadine van der Velde's last films as an actress. The Canadian-born actress was close to become a 1980s superstar with her roles in "Critters" and "After Midnight", but the lack of starring roles and the lack of commercial success made her vanish into oblivion. She became an award-winning writer in the 1990s and now lives in her native Canada with her husband, actor Patrick Breen.
Apart from appearances of several members attached to the National Ballet of Canada, augmented by a former principal dancer with that splendid organization, there is very little cause to recommend this below par effort that seems to decompose as it moves along. An aspiring dancer, Jessica (Nadine van der Velde), is in the process of auditioning for a new theatrical company in Toronto that is preparing to stage a modern dance performance to be held within the Beaumont Theatre, an old structure that has been dark for nearly 50 years, following the on-stage death there of ballerina Lili LaNuit, a possible homicide occurring as she was dancing in the role of Medusa, the Gorgon whose tale is a staple of Greek mythology. An injury suffered by another dancer results in a call for young Jessica, but she finds herself duelling with not merely her lack of confidence but, additionally, hostility from the troupe's management and cast. However, after Jessica discovers an abandoned dressing room upstairs at the theatre once utilized by the deceased Lili LaNuit, her personality is supposedly possessed by the latter's spirit, with Lili's flaws and superior skills distributed to the latter-day dancer, whose ability then naturally becomes roughly equal to that of LaNuit, this pleasing others of the troupe and causing her to be fully acceptable as one of the entourage. At this point the scenario turns into a farrago since, with troupe dissension no longer at issue, a viewer must instead concentrate upon the ambiguous activities of an elderly man, Edward Beaumont (Christopher Plummer), who resides with his sister in an apartment above the Theatre that he owns, and who had been a beau of Lili and perhaps her murderer, as well (from jealousy); Jessica's lover Paul, simplistically desiring only to marry her; Jessica's best friend Karen, whose new-born child is consistently transferred from one set of reluctant arms to another; financial backers of the new company, who also were somehow involved with LaNuit's final appearance; a large and vocal parrot that wings about at random, muttering obscurities; a local shopkeeper, also with a romantic history in connection with the LaNuit imbroglio, and so forth. Van der Velde tries very hard to make something of her silly part, and is physically fit here, but she does not move as a dancer moves, and the scornful treatment accorded her by her peers unfortunately seems apt, while her intended personality metamorphosis into a ballerina of the long ago is evidenced in a most mild form, when at all. Telefilm Canada assists with the film's funding, but there is little of merit in it, due to miscasting, tepid direction and playing, and a screenplay burdened with weak dialogue along with confusing transitional sequences.
It's difficult, as an entertainment professional, to watch just about anything from 1988. This slice of cinematic history is riddled with ill-conceived plot diagrams, cumbersome scripts, and honestly, embarrassing special effects. But I think we often lose sight of why we sit down in front of a film in the first place. We want it to take us somewhere. I'm not sure we're even too concerned with where exactly, just anywhere. My most memorable road trip was in a VW bus, not flying first class to London. My point, is that this film takes you somewhere, somewhere else. It's thoughtful, even a bit mesmerizing. The cinematography was captivating and the costumes were perfectly period. Christopher Plummer clearly took the role seriously, and I was lulled to watch the film as a viewer, not as a critic. Put me in front of a modern indy, I'll watch as a critic- and I'll all too easily forget that there is a story, or a script altogether.