The Good, the Bad & the Sean Nós Dancer never becomes all that good or bad.
Published on March 16, 2023
Rating 2 /5
The Good, the Bad & the Sean Nós Dancer plays like a dance-off Western. It’s a film about a stranger who comes to town, shows off his dance moves, and needs to stand up to the corrupt sheriff by defeating him with his feet. This is a fun idea for a film, yet it feels like this picture is still only half a concept within eight minutes of Irish stepping and Spaghetti Western tropes.
There’s not a whole lot to the story, which is fine. A man rides into a West Ireland town and finds he’s not all that welcomed. Threatened with guns, the man shows off his dance moves to impress the locals. They’re not impressed mainly because this guy is breaking the law. It’s against the law to dance in this town without a license. Realizing this isn’t right, he sets up a showdown with the law and dances the corrupt to the floor.
The film fluctuates between being too docile for its tale of dance and too routine with its Western stagings. There are some great moments where a flashy dance could glue the eyes to the screen, yet it feels so standard to ever crossover into the realm of the absurd or tongue-in-cheek. The same goes for the Western tone, which is sadly reduced to the cliches of close-ups, zooms, and the classic Western twang soundtrack that sounds far too stock.
There may have been a chocolate and peanut butter situation here with the blending of genres. Spaghetti Western and Irish dance is a film cocktail that feels unique and original. Sadly, many limitations exist for a showy film that doesn’t offer all that much. The Western tone feels lacking with lukewarm lighting and good-but-not-great costumes. The tension of a mounting dance-off feels cumbersome when burdened with passive acting and an unengaging plot. By the time the film gets to the dance-off, which is easily the highlight of this short film, it feels like way too little, too late. The big moment when the hero finally defeats the dance-restricting bully comes off as clunky in its assembly. A film with dance battles shouldn’t feel this boring.
The Good, the Bad & the Sean Nós Dancer never becomes all that good or bad. It’s maddening that such a concept only seems compelling in this picture, more for the idea than the execution. Perhaps one day, we’ll get the ultimate Irish-Western film that bleeds classic Westerns with the silliness of dance movies. It feels awkward to settle for this good-natured but fumbling film on the subject.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.