‘And Then We Danced’ Review: Sweden’s Oscar Contender is a Masterpiece

Does Sweden have a chance at the Oscars? South Korea and Russia have their heavyweight Parasite and Beanpole, respectively. But it would be unwise to ignore what And Then We Danced has to offer. Here, Levan Akin proves he has what it takes to create a modern classic.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the film? Does it stand a chance against other international entries? Find out below.

‘And Then We Danced’ Review: Sweden’s Oscar Contender is a Masterpiece

Comparing to ‘Call Me By Your Name’

This may serve as a double-edged sword. And Then We Danced shares quite a few similarities with Call Me By Your Name. That’s a good thing, right? The latter received universal acclaim when it came out in 2017. Also, it earned $40 million with just a $3.5 million budget.

Can And Then We Danced replicate the same level of success? Both movies feature two guys who are grappling with themes of identity and sexuality. They have excellent cinematography and feature superb songs that fit the narrative. But what if the relatively short release gap between them is a bad thing?

Even today, people are still talking about Call Me By Your Name. Author Andre Aciman just released the sequel to the novel the movie was based on. Last year, a sequel to the film was announced as well. 

Comparing to ‘Call Me By Your Name’

But And Then We Danced has unique elements. Despite the notable similarities, it’s not an exact copy of Luca Guadagnino’s film. In the Swedish film, dance is essential. It’s a way for the characters to express their culture and identity. Thus, the movie title rings true due to how it treats dance as a language itself.

Choice Tracks and Superb Camerawork

Since dance is important, And Then We Danced also pays great attention to sound and visuals. Even the trailer is impeccably made. It features Kite’s energetic song “Jonny Boy” and also the “Final Dance” from the original soundtrack. These alone convey a sense of tradition and a longing for freedom.

Viewers will appreciate how the camerawork captures the intensity of each performance. It follows and cuts to the right places. It’s what makes the final performance brimming with meaning. Still, the cinematography isn’t only about the dance movements.

Choice Tracks and Superb Camerawork

There’s an outstanding long take in the latter half. The camera follows the main character as he moves around a crowded house to talk to Irakli. This part captures every feeling from love to pain and regret. It’s a highly emotional point in the movie — and it’s one of the best sequences in film in 2019.

An Exemplary Lead Performance

The movie wouldn’t stand out in Cannes if it weren’t for Levan Gelbakhiani. He nailed the role right from the delivery to the expressions. Plus, Gelbakhiani is a fine dancer. He excelled whether he was doing a traditional Georgian dance or enjoying his time in a club or house party.

His eyes alone tell the story of a young man trying to find himself. The way his character Merab looks (and doesn’t look) at Mary reveals a lot about his conflicting emotions. The developing chemistry between Merab and Irakli is believable because of his acting.

An Exemplary Lead Performance

And Then We Danced doesn’t waste its frames. The scenes are carefully chosen to let us into Merab’s life — and how Irakli’s entrance changes him forever. In the finale, we’re confident you’ll end up with a smile on your face. Merab’s final act nerve-wracking but also so full of hope.