Toronto
2 min

Revolution

The burning question: Can Sonja Smits dance?

COSMIC CAULDRON. In one segment of Rings Of Saturn, a doctor and his patient, Philip Drube (in white jacket) and Phillip Nero, get steamy. Credit: Xtra files

The dance film Rings Of Saturn ruminates on the nature of love and desire. In each of five sequences, one character’s unspoken attraction to another leads to a dance, embodying the joy and sadness of that desire.



Written and directed by Moze Mossanen and choreographed by Robert Desrosiers, The Rings Of Saturn takes on the task of transferring dance to film – always dangerous ground to tread, as it often proves difficult to capture the nature of the one art form via the other.



For the most part, Rings overcomes this difficulty, so that its dance elements are appropriately presented as film pieces. It does stumble here and there, but the film’s main flaw is in its underdeveloped premise.



The situations in which the characters are placed come across as flimsy and manufactured. Think porn: The excuse for getting the performers in a room together is less important than the money shot.



That said, Rings is an eminently enjoyable piece.



The first sequence focuses on a successful, single lawyer (Caroline Richardson) who has fallen in love with her best friend’s husband (Rex Harrington). The dance here falls victim to a kind of syntax clash: The lovely fluidity of the choreography, while reflected in the camera’s movements, is challenged by a choppy editing style, an odd choice whose effect is inappropriately jarring.



The remaining segments are more satisfying.

A doctor’s passion for one of his patients leads to the two men (Philip Drube and Phillip Nero) in a rather steamy embrace in the hallways of a medical building, to the tune of Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore.”



A swimmer’s (Marq Frerichs) fantasy about a woman (Kristy Kennedy) he sees daily, finds them splashing about in the pool.

Some irony for a gay audience is found in the most lush of the dances: A woman (Julia Aplin) waits alone at night in Queen’s Park for a man (Sean Ling) with whom she has arranged a blind date over the Internet. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, this sequence is perhaps the best marriage of dance and cinema.



The burning question, once you see the cast list, is: Can Sonja Smits dance?



Well, not really. But as a bored wife who shops to fill her time, Smits is luminous as always; she expresses her character’s sudden attraction to a shoe salesman (Troy Liddell) with a smouldering rawness. Her unpolished performance actually adds to the sequence in which she is featured; she appears almost surprised that she is dancing at all, which nicely reflects the sudden desire that rises in her.



The five dance pieces are woven together by the narration of a young girl (Kendra Baker) who expounds on the secret longings she witnesses in those around her. While the script here is a little sentimental, Baker’s delivery is pleasant and charming; she brings an honesty to the piece that really works.



* Rings Of Saturn.

8pm. Thu, Jan 31.

CBC.