Thursday, August 3, 2017

STEP Review - 3 Stars

"STEP" showcases the senior year of several inner city Baltimore high school girls, who dance on the school dance team. The plot follows their practice & rehearsals leading to a state wide competition, but the story goes beyond just dance and teamwork. "STEP" takes us into the girl's lives, most of them challenged situations including poverty, depression, and the difficulty of single parenting. The time frame adds importance. We meet these students, as Baltimore recovers from the Freddie Gray death and rioting. Filmmaker Amanda Lipitz started this project as a favor to her mother, one of the founders of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. This charter school has a goal of sending all of its graduates on to college. The pressure of grades and financial aid, the challenge of home life, and of teenage years feels overwhelming. The tuition costs involved made me angry, just hearing the numbers. "STEP" will leave you wanting to know what happens to these girls, and makes you worry about them at the same time. I won't call "STEP" perfect. The director skims over the dance routines and team preparation. Sometimes the subjects appear too aware of the camera. Nevertheless, I predict "STEP" will earn a favored spot in the documentary Oscar race. "STEP," 3 stars, rated PG. Does it deliver what it promises? Real life mix of entertainment & documentary, and very moving. Is it entertaining? Poignant. Is it worth the price of admission? Yes.