Being different and open is a challenging endeavor in Don Scime’s The David Dance, a heartfelt indie film that questions religious dogma and tackles the validity of America’s objections to non-conventional family structures. Directed by April Winney (Brave Lad Films), the motion picture is an adaptation of Scime’s homonymous stage play and tells the touching story of a gay radio host who struggles to translate his caustic, sincere on-air persona into his real life encounters.
Without appealing too much to histrionic devices and being overly melodramatic, the plot retains a nonchalant, emotional tone throughout its progression and focuses on the hurtful and oftentimes unwarranted restrictions imposed by society onto the LGBT community. The overt bias aimed at same-sex parents is sensibly and intelligently discussed in the film, raising important questions regarding the legitimacy and soundness of prohibiting gay couples from raising a child.
The movie opens on a sorrowful note, with a scene between the main character, David Patrone (Don Scime), and his seemingly disheartened lover, Chris (Guy Adkins). We find out that our self-conscious protagonist has just been fired from his job and that his beloved sister, Kate (Antoinette LaVecchia) has recently died. Setting the premise of grief early on, the viewer is assured that, although the film won’t necessarily depict a fuzzy, positive view on the world, it does promise to provide a highly-intimate, genuine outlook on life that you can easily relate to and recognize.
David is a bold, authentic gay radio host, who candidly and bitingly shares his opinions with the rest of the world – at least when he’s on-air. Behind the microphone, the man is introverted, soft-spoken and oftentimes emotionally unresponsive. Hosting a popular broadcast called Gay Talk in the conservative city of Buffalo, the protagonist struggles to live up to his witty and charismatic public figure as “Danger Dave”. In one of his shows, he takes on a hard-headed Christian radio host, June (Jordan Baker), who advocates for conversion therapy for gay teenagers, among other things. David manages to remain calm, but nonetheless silver-tongued in their debate, earning some of the listeners’ respect and admiration.
His closest, most earnest relationship seems to be with his endearing, quirky sister, who’s tried to protect him from harm all of her life and has successfully pushed him past his comfort zone. She is the one who convinces David to create his own live radio show, as well as the one who introduces him to his kind, empathetic boyfriend, Chris. The affectionate, gentle relationship between the two is a testimony to the fact that same-sex parents can be just as loving and devoted as conservative caregivers, rendering the argument against LGBT parenting obsolete. Kate herself is disappointed with institutionalized marriage and traditional families, having been divorced 3 times and looking to adopt a 9-year old Brazilian child. David’s self-doubt and concern become evident when his sister asks him if he would like for the two of them to raise the young girl together.
Although the slow pace and the plotline lapses might be off-putting for some, the film’s unhurried momentum is necessary to create an intimate, snug atmosphere and establish a warm, heart-to-heart connection with the viewers. The disparate flashbacks and constant back-and-forth scenes might at times seem sloppy and disorganized, but can be forgiven in the context of the movie’s whimsical feel and indie influence. The David Dance is at the very least successful in disputing deep-seated societal beliefs and turning its shortcomings and occasional sluggish storytelling into a means of bonding with the viewers on a deeper level.
The film’s perspective on life and self-expression can be bluntly summed up by David’s remark during one of his broadcasts – “Welcome to the wonderful world of being who you really are. It sucks. Big time”. However, the film progressively moves away from this gloomy stance, as David embarks on a journey of self-discovery and maturity, gradually learning how to open up and be comfortable in his own skin. Nonetheless, the ending leaves us with a bittersweet taste in our mouths, as it becomes clear that, while it’s absolutely crucial to speak your mind and have your story heard, the world may never be fully accepting of the truth you’re trying to share.