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With Jim Sabatini

How She Move

How She Move
Rutina Wesley and Dwain Murphy

Rated: PG-13 for some drug content, suggestive material and language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: January 25, 2008 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation

How She Move continues the competitive drive in cinematic affection for dance. Here, it is African-American step dancing. One hopes that a film of this caliber can connect beyond urban markets.

Ian Iqbal Rashid's Canadian/Jamaican drama, however, is more swift than some of its recent counterparts in making the mental aspects gyrate better with the physical. Even if some of the line readings appear to be stilted.

This gritty film (perhaps shot in varying film stock) compares well to Girlfight as a sad, yet very promising dancer, Rayanne or Raya (Rutina Wesley) works to move out of a lower-class existence.

Rashid gets the most out of Wesley, whose Raya is coping with the loss of her older sister Pam to drugs, which left her family emotionally and financially asunder. Her parents aren't on good terms as her mother believes in Raya's education to forge a strong future like she had been in an elite prep school.

Similar to Save The Last Dance, Raya's relocation to public school puts her in similar circumstances that led her sister down a dark path. Opposite the wonderful Wesley is the hard-boiled, convincing Tre Armstrong as the confrontational Michelle. She was close with the addled Pam and has an impassioned dance off with Raya who begins to reveal her true needs and ambition.

The conflict on Raya works so well in the internalization of her character who hardly neglects her studies. A love interest played by Dwain Murphy as the charming, if garrulous Bishop might be a bit of a plot device for Raya to get into the all-guy team called JSJ. The boy-meets-girl, loses-girl syndrome does eventually lead to familiar territory.

But, that's hardly a knock on this smart, vivacious variation on the against-the-odds story that works to great effect, succeeding much more so than Stomp the Yard or Step Up. Rashid works with his crew in a smashing way in the climactic "Monster Step" set in Detroit as Wesley beats the rap on this genre in realizing how "one moment creates a million more".

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How She Move           B            B 

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