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Film / Dance Me Outside

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Dance Me Outside is a 1994 drama film directed by Bruce McDonald. The director also co-authored the script, based on the book by W.P. Kinsella. The plot follows Silas Crow, a teenager living on a reservation in Northern Ontario. He and his best friend Frank Fencepost spend their days chasing girls and getting into trouble. The plot takes a darker turn when Little Margaret is murdered and her attacker only spends a year in jail.

The film contains examples of:

  • The '90s: So, so much, in the fashions and music.
  • Asshole Victim: Clarence. He definitely had it coming.
  • Badass Native: Gooch, who at the start of the film was just released from prison. Subverted with the rest of the group, as they're complete boneheads when trying to plan a crime.
  • Canada, Eh?: The film is set on a Reserve in (rural) Northern Ontario.
  • Creator Provincialism: The book is set in Northern Manitoba, but the film (and later series) takes place in Northern Ontario and was filmed in Parry Sound. Bruce McDonald lives and works in Toronto and his early films often used Northern Ontario as a setting (possibly for financial reasons rather than aesthetic or dramatic ones).
  • Disposable Woman: Zig-Zagged with Little Margaret. She receives little character development, and her murder seems quick and throwaway. However, the effect ripples through the community, especially once Clarence receives a light sentence. A rather unfortunate example of Truth in Television, as there are hundreds of missing and murdered Native women in Canada (and thousands more that are the victims of sexual abuse), yet no one seems to care.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Gooch to Silas: "This one's mother's a buttlegger, brother's a retard, cousin's a scumbag...What's more, he's ugly." Silas: "Ugly? Did you say ugly?"
  • Jerkass: Clarence.
  • Magical Native American: Subverted (as are many Native stereotypes in the film). In the opening scene, Silas is crouched, staring at a crow while pan-flute plays in the background. He then offers the crow a smoke and it bites him and flies away. Later, one of the Native ladies threatens to cast a curse on her friend for drinking, much to everyone's amusement.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Of the comedic sort. Silas' sister married a white man and moved to Toronto. Robert doesn't understand his bride's family or their culture, and they mock and prank him mercilessly.
  • Monochrome Casting: Justified, in that the film takes place on the Reserve.
  • Mood Whiplash: Silas and Frank are trading jokes until they find Little Margaret's body. The voiceover adds a "funny story" about how Little Margaret got her name.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Subverted. While the framing device is Silas narrating a story he's writing, he's writing it for an entry-essay into an auto mechanic program, not to become a writer.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gooch.
  • Pilot Movie: Although the film was a theatrical release, it was spun off into Canadian TV series The Rez.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The book is a collection of short stories, which makes the film narrative feel a bit episodic and disjointed. For this reason, many things in the book were left out.
  • Sham Ceremony: The boys "initiate" Robert.
  • Title Drop: When Little Margaret, who's been having trouble finding a dance partner all evening, greets Clarence.