Fancy Dance (2024) Review — Lily Gladstone Embodies Strength and Resilience

Here at FandomWire, we review the new Apple TV+ film Fancy Dance, starring Academy Award nominee Lily Gladstone. The article is spoiler free.

SUMMARY

  • The review of the Apple TV+ film Fancy Dance is spoiler free.
  • Fancy Dance is an underwhelming at times, but the modern-day character study on subtle criminal cultural assimilation leaves its mark in unexpected ways.
  • Here at FandomWire, we give Fancy Dance a grade of 6/10.
Show More
Featured Video

The upcoming Apple TV+ film Fancy Dance, now playing in theaters before its streaming release on June 28th, is the type of unromanticized character study that should be celebrated. Seen through a double feminist and cultural safety lens, Fancy Dance is patient in the way the character study unfolds, sneaking up on you with its modern-day tale of colonialism still ongoing in America today.

Advertisement

Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress Lily Gladstone is at the center of the story. The Indigenous actress gives a convincing performance as a woman who embodies strength and resilience with an unwavering and calm demeanor when seen. However, when alone, she displays the type of private vulnerability that packs a poignant punch to a sometimes stagnant story.

Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+
Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s Fancy Dance Review and Synopsis

The story follows Jax (Killers of the Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone), a middle-aged woman and member of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. She has a home on the reservation and is the caretaker of her niece, Roki (Gladstone’s Under the Bridge co-star, Isabel DeRoy-Olson). The young and impressionable teenager has been living with her aunt since her mom disappeared months ago.

Advertisement

Jax isn’t exactly a good influence on Roki. They go around town looking to take advantage of anyone they can find. She comes up with the ingenious act of stealing gas and even distracts local fishermen by washing up in a river, all while her niece steals an old white male retiree’s wallet and car keys. Jax and Roki steal a truck and drop it off at a local chop shop for quick cash.

Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+
Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+

Lily Gladstone Embodies Strength and Resilience

Jax is helping Roki save up for the upcoming powwow. Roki asks her aunt if her mom will return by then, but Jax, because her sister has done this before. Then, her father, Frank (Shea Whigham), visits with his wife, Nancy (Audrey Wasilewski). Coincidentally, a social worker shows up the next day, putting Roki in Frank’s care after failing to defuse Jax’s felony drug charge from a decade prior.

Fancy Dance is the product of writer/director Erica Tremblay, an Indigenous filmmaker known for her powerful and unvarnished documentaries. The performances from Gladstone move the film along with an engaging portrayal of a woman frantically trying to find a way to bring her sister and her niece back to their community. It’s easily the part of the film that keeps the viewer’s attention.

Advertisement
Isabel Deroy-Olson and Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+
Isabel Deroy-Olson and Lily Gladstone in Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+

Is Apple TV+’s Fancy Dance Worth Watching?

The best part of Tremblay’s script is the intersectionality of Indigenous women. For one, the socioeconomic factors force Gladstone’s Jax to take up stealing or selling drugs to survive, a practice she passes along to her niece. Another is how Indigenous women go missing in America, similar to the themes of Wind River. These themes smartly avoid healthy doses of melodrama.

Fancy Dance is worth watching but be prepared for an underwhelming conclusion that trades a potentially explosive ending for a culturally appropriate and poignant one. Additionally, Tremblay, like many documentary filmmakers who transition into features, struggles with moving the story along by artificial means, similar to Liz Garbus’s first feature, Lost Girls, which feels forced.

However, Fancy Dance’s modern-day character study on criminal cultural assimilation leaves its mark in unexpected ways. Along with Gladstone’s performance, the film is worth a mild recommendation.

Advertisement
Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+
Fancy Dance (2024) | Image via Apple TV+

You can stream the Fancy Dance on Apple TV+ June 28th.

6/10

6 out of 10

Follow us for more entertainment coverage on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

Advertisement
Avatar

Written by M.N. Miller

Articles Published: 154

M.N. Miller is a film and television critic and a proud member of the Las Vegas Film Critic Society, Critics Choice Association, and a 🍅 Rotten Tomatoes/Tomato meter approved. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from Mansfield University and a Master's from Chamberlain University. However, he still puts on his pants one leg at a time, and that's when he usually stumbles over. When not writing about film or television, he patiently waits for the next Pearl Jam album and chooses to pass the time by scratching his wife's back on Sunday afternoons while she watches endless reruns of California Dreams. M.N. Miller was proclaimed the smartest reviewer alive by actor Jason Isaacs but chose to ignore his obvious sarcasm. You can also find his work on Hidden Remote, InSession Film, Ready Steady Cut, Geek Vibes Nation, and Nerd Alert.