Review: Sisters step it with style

“How She Move” is a girl-meets-stomp story that dazzles as a dance showcase, stumbles as an urban melodrama, and serves up enough agreeably natural current among its dynamic young protagonists to emerge above the middling mark.

The latest release representing the mini-mini-genre that has given us dance-as-transformation fare as diverse as “Saturday Night Fever,” “Shall We Dance” and last year’s step-dance-themed “Stomp the Yard,” the film adds more “step,” plus grit and Canada, to the picture. Director Ian Iqbal Rashid (“Touch of Pink”) supplies style and energy. All the movie needs is a fresh story.

Raya (Rutina Wesley), a studious Toronto teen, is forced to leave her high-achieving private school and return to her crime-plagued old hood after the drug-related death of her sister makes it impossible for her working-class parents (Melanie Nicholls-King, Conrad Coates) to pay her tuition. Viewed as a stuck-up preppie, Raya tries to assimilate by joining the step-dance crowd. The response proves uneven: Tough girl Michelle (Tre Armstrong) becomes Raya’s rival. Love interest Bishop (Dwain Murphy) admires Raya’s “serious step” and puts Raya on his all-male dance team.

Raya’s goal: to receive her share of a $50,000 dance-contest prize and use it as her ticket to medical school. Her shakiness as a team player nearly dooms those ambitions.

Visually, Rashid creates a stylishly low-budget, gritty-chic look. Tonally, he presents his characters’ interactions with engaging naturalism. Whether Bishop’s team is rehearsing atop a car or Raya and Michelle are getting sisterly, something genuine and vital is happening.

The dancing adds superb juice. As the characters display their moves, a solid picture of the specifics of “step” surfaces. The flashy, costumed numbers, choreographed by Hi Hat, are enjoyable and vibrant.

Unfortunately, however, there’s not much of a story here. Annmarie Morais’ refreshingly girl-focused but sadly cliched screenplay subjects Raya and company to so many contrivances as they stomp and slap their way to glory that you can’t feel invested in their situation or their transformation. The most interesting characters — Raya’s Jamaican immigrant parents — get frustratingly little screen time.

Credits

How She Move

Starring Rutina Wesley, Tre Armstrong, Dwain Murphy and Melanie Nicholls-King

Written by Annmarie Morais

Directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid

Rated PG-13

Running time 1 hour 38 minutes

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announces federal firearms charges against two men for their roles in a March 2019 shooting outside the Fillmore Heritage Center in a news conference alongside SFPD staff at the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Departing U.S. attorney predicts corruption probe will continue

David Anderson shook up City Hall as top federal prosecutor

Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, a former school board member, has been asked to help secure an agreement between the school district and teacher’s union. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
 <ins></ins>
Supervisor Walton tapped to mediate teacher contract talks

District and union at odds over hours in-person students should be in the classroom

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

Most Read