SXSW Review – Fancy Dance

Since her sister’s disappearance, Jax (Lily Gladstone) has cared for her niece Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson) by scraping by on the Seneca-Cayuga Reservation in Oklahoma. At the risk of losing custody to Jax’s grandfather, Frank, the pair hit the road and scour the backcountry to track down Roki’s mother in time for a big upcoming powwow – the “fancy dance” of the title. But can they truly find justice in a colonised world?

Lily Gladstone is excellent as ever as a woman driven by frustration and love to gamble with the attention of the law, and Deroy-Olson is a superb find. Shea Whigham also does some solid supporting work as that most dangerous of creatures – a white man who’s sure he’s in the right. With its themes of hidden violence against native women, this is something like the thinking man’s Wind River – except with all the problematic issues of that film resolved.

With well-crafted direction from Erica Tremblay, Fancy Dance is a delight.

Fancy Dance is playing at the SXSW Film and TV Festival in Austin, TX.

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