2017-06-30 09:29

What it's about:

When a high-spirited American hip-hop dancer goes to India with her family for a wedding, she is blown away by a new dance style and falls in love with the man who introduced her to it.

What we thought:

It’s been a while since a dance movie made it onto the scene, and though Heartbeats comes from the creator of the only real dance film franchise Step Up, it will come and go without so much as making your head bop. Though some of the Bollywood dance scenes are interesting to watch matched with beautiful outfits, I’ve seen better dancers and choreographies on YouTube, specifically the dance crew that is supposedly on their way to be contracted for a prestigious dance channel. The romantic story is quite charmless, and without any big name cast, no one will even know this movie exists.

A young dancer (Krystal Ellsworth) hides her aspirations from her pushy parents, and upon discovering her flunking out of law school, they drag her to a wedding in India. While rehearsing for the traditional wedding, she falls for a wedding entertainer (Amitash Pradhan) intent on making his own dance dreams come true.

Heartbeats cannot compare to Step Up at all, even if it is directed by the latter’s creator Duane Adler. You’d have to really be into the professional dance scene to enjoy this movie, but even then, it’s still quite a mediocre performance. I have four years of hip hop dancing under my belt, and Heartbeats failed to live up to its legacy for me. The choreography is quite commonplace with average dancers, and although the Indian outfits are breathtaking and add some beauty to the movements, the American dance outfits are straight up ugly and unflattering for everyone involved. Dancing isn’t all about the outfits, but it does make a difference to the audience’s experience of the performance, and I just felt sorry for the dancers who were forced into that beige monstrosities with random bits of red hanging from them. 

As for the acting, you can’t expect much from a movie where they did the opposite of La La Land and cast dancers rather than actors, with the exception of Pradhan who as a Bollywood star can at least balance the acting and dancing (he’s also an exceptional piece of eye candy). The lead actress however shows little in way of acting talent and despite being a backup dancer for the Biebs and even starring in La La Land, I thought her dancing wasn’t up to scratch. It can be a result of bad choreography though, and she’s much better in some of the YouTube dance videos she’s appeared in. The Bollywood dance routines were much stronger than the American ones, and the fusion dance scenes felt forced.

Heartbeats is pretty much a mediocre Hollywood attempt at Bollywood, and I am surprised it’s getting a cinematic release in the first place, when this squarely belongs in the straight-to-DVD movie realm. I am all for a new dance movie (not La La Land) that can help put the beat back into the genre, but I do at least want one with a lick of decent writing, and Heartbeats is definitely not it.

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