Like any traditional Drama/ Romance/ Dance genre film, STAND SURE (Mulvany and Wild, 2017) leans on the idea that effort and hard work can overcome any obstacles. The movie’s story begins with its heroine, Danica (also the name of the dancer that plays her), stuck in a walking boot because she’s ripped her Achilles tendon. Dejected, she tells her friend/coach/and possible love interest Connor that she couldn’t possibly dance in an upcoming event. He, however, thinks that she has the strength to try, and begins coaching her for the competition.
We then are given a series of training montages that are the backbone of the sports film—from Rocky to Dirty Dancing to Ali—and the way to shorten time exponentially. What makes STAND SURE a little more unusual is the kind of competition itself: Highland dancing. Ever since the emergence of “Lord of the Dance,” which thrust Irish dancing into mainstream culture, different modes of Celtic have a taken on a campy, Vegas feel that is entirely absent here. In the film, highland dancing is a series sport, complete with rigorous training, skill, and pain. We are given this image metaphorically through Danica’s constant ice baths—which consistently has represented the toll on the body that competitive athleticism brings.
The film is well-paced and fast-moving, and the training montage aptly conveys Danica’s physical struggle to overcome her injury and compete. In addition, the two leads do have a certain amount of chemistry. Danica Wild—likely more of a dancer than an actor, plays the lead very competently in the role of a struggling athlete. However, while the film definitely has a certain good-natured charm, it does little to distinguish itself from other films of the same genre. As a vehicle that shows the strength and beauty of Highland dancing, though, it does well to introduce globally the intense athleticism and seriousness of the sport.