The upshot of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” turning into an internationally franchised pop phenomenon is that drag efficiency has firmly moved from the LGBTQ fringes into the mainstream: As an artform with an viewers that now spans all demographics, it follows that it’s going to turn out to be extra inclusive on stage too. That’s the driving ethical, at the least, of “Dancing Queens,” a chipper, youth-targeted Swedish comedy that, in additional methods than one, encapsulates the cultural broadening of drag within the post-RuPaul period.
Actor-turned-filmmaker Helena Bergström brings sequined cheer and free-to-be-you-and-me spirit to this story of a younger, cisgender feminine dancer who will get an unlikely break by concealing her gender identification to carry out in an ailing Gothenburg drag membership, and it ought to duly discover a sizable world viewers when it premieres on Netflix on the outset of Pleasure month. In its eagerness to please, nevertheless, the movie winds up pushing its personal queer characters and narratives to the sidelines — a paradox that it by no means fairly resolves.
The relative edgelessness of “Dancing Queens” comes as a disappointment from Bergström, finest identified to worldwide audiences because the onscreen half of one in all fashionable Swedish cinema’s important partnerships: Along with her filmmaker husband Colin Nutley, she headlined a collection of Nineties arthouse hits (“Home of Angels,” “The Final Dance,” “Underneath the Solar”) that wryly probed the nation’s social mores and sexual politics. Nutley serves as an govt producer on “Dancing Queens,” although the tangy irony of his and Bergstrom’s previous glories isn’t a lot in proof. Retaining issues comfortably within the household, their daughter Molly Nutley assumes main girl duties right here, and to higher impact: Her contemporary, quietly managed display screen presence saves many a scene from outright schmaltz.
She has a tough process, nevertheless, discovering many corners or creases within the character of Dylan, a heroine depicted from the outset as a straightforwardly good lady who Simply Needs To Dance. We first encounter her tending to the grave of her not too long ago deceased mom (additionally a dancer, performed in gilded flashblacks by Ellen Lindblad), singing a lilting rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Any individual” beneath her breath. We then lower to her working her twin jobs, working deliveries for her father’s grocery retailer in a quaint Bohuslän fishing village and providing high-energy dance courses to native moppets. Clearly, she has channeled her grief right into a life lived predominantly for others.
Dylan’s plucky grandmother (Marie Göranzon) needs Dylan to pursue her (and her mom’s) desires of dancing for an even bigger viewers, and chides her into heading to Gothenburg to audition for a significant fashionable dance firm. The audition doesn’t come to cross, however by means of a decidedly unconvincing chain of occasions, Dylan is persuaded to take a job cleansing at hard-up drag membership Queens, the place an influence wrestle is beneath manner between star performer Tommy (Claes Malmberg), an old-school queen who favors tacky ’70s disco routines, and hip younger choreographer Victor (Fredrik Quiñones), who sees no motive why Dylan can’t be the brand new queen on the block. Hiding her gender from everybody else on the membership, they develop a slinky, crowd-pleasing new act.
From this hokey premise — constructed from equal elements “Flashdance,” “Burlesque” and “Yentl,” minus their collective camp worth — “Dancing Queens” goes nowhere particularly shocking, and at almost two hours, takes its candy time in doing so. Separate from her regularly fulfilled terpsichorean ambitions, and regardless of Nutley’s unforced appeal, Dylan stays a little bit of an empty vessel: Save for her strictly platonic friendship with Victor, there’s little in the way in which of a private arc to complement her predictable profession progress.
The story’s most important tensions, in the meantime, play out in varied subplots between its secondary homosexual characters, all of whom are diminished to inventory figures. Particularly queer dynamics of inter-generational friction, relationship insecurities and the nervousness of popping out are all dealt with in excessive précis type away from the movie’s heart, with out imperiling its constant, healthful sexlessness: Even the dancing by no means threatens to get soiled.
There’s an fascinating movie to be made about ladies cracking the drag scene, shuffling by means of complicated layers of gender identification and identification, however this innocuous feel-good trifle hasn’t precisely discovered it. When, left alone within the membership one evening, our heroine busts out some spontaneous strikes to Gloria Gaynor’s immortal “I Will Survive,” we don’t really feel the suitable euphoria: The place the best drag queens genuinely make you consider they’re lipsyncing for his or her lives, Dylan’s survival has by no means appeared doubtful.