The adventures of the elderly are unfortunately rarely captured on film. With so much experience and a strong sense of wisdom, older people can provide some of the more entertaining films out there. Gena Rowlands is an actress whose been around a while and once the camera go on, she lights up like a bright star. With so many credits to her name, she is arguably a film legend. Her latest film Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is yet another example of the actress’ immense talent and though this is a film that will probably not get a lot of attention, it is an adorable little dramedy that will either find its way on the Hallmark Channel, your heart, or both.
Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman from a play by Richard Alfieri, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a simple story with delightful performances. Lily Harrison (Rowlands) is a somewhat cranky woman in her 70s who decides to take dance lessons. What should have ended up as a straightforward and professional instructor, Lily gets Michael Minetti (Cheyenne Jackson), a wisecracking young buck who gets under Lily’s skin from day one. Eventually, of course ,the two strike up a cute friendship and they learn about each other in ways they never expected to in the first place. A predictable plot ensues and the two characters connect, bond, and all that fun stuff.
Though the script (penned by Richard Alfieri) is corny here and there with a syrupy message, Six Dance Lessons is a charming take on the crotchety old person versus young and immature jerk. The two leads make it work and their onscreen chemistry is actually pretty strong. They bounce insults off of one another and it is just a joy to watch. Rowlands was made for this part and Jackson is serviceable though any sarcastic nimrod in his 30s could have pulled it off. On the plus side, he is pretty to look at and does deliver his witty one-liners with some pizazz.
Another key aspect of the film is the setting, which primarily takes place in Lily’s spacious Floridian apartment which overlooks a very beautiful albeit very fake-looking ocean view. The artificialness of the background is a bit distracting at times but eventually, you overlook it. The real attraction is Rowlands, who steals the show with every glare she throws at Michael. The legendary Rita Moreno even plays a nosy neighbor who can’t stand the duo’s “noisy” dancing/music. She offers additional comic relief in this role and it’s rather welcome.
Originally a play, Six Dance Lessons definitely feels like it was originally intended for the stage. There are just a handful of characters and about three main sets, if that. This is a film that Gena Rowlands fans should not miss. It is her show, without a doubt, and she simply owns it. She exudes confidence and is even not afraid to show her vulnerable side. These are the markings of a great actor and Ms. Rowlands pulls it off very well. Jackson, however, needs practice but he does show some promise. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks isn’t a perfect film but it isn’t terrible either. It is cute enough to warrant a viewing but not sadly, not worthy of a second.