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How She Move

A film about step-dancing teens breaks out of the box.

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The plot is familiar: Plucky girl from the hood plies streetwise dance talent into economic and social opportunity, even as assorted forces (parents, mean friends, lack of cash, feelings of inadequacy) try to hold her back. But Ian Iqbal Rashid's feel-gooder, a low-budgeter produced in Canada, easily trumps its flashier, more hollow Hollywood cousins (Step Up, Stomp the Yard). Rashid lines up a cast of unknown actors, who deliver the film's predictable dialogue well enough. But more importantly, they look real, complete with blotchy skin and normal bodies, and man, can they dance: The high-energy, acrobatic, precision step-dance routines are fantastic, and Rashid wisely shoots them straight. No slo-mo, no rapid edits, no camera tricks -- the talent speaks for itself. Rutina Wesley carries much of the film as our conflicted adolescent heroine, Raya, who struggles to find a balance between keeping it real on her home turf and moving forward. How She Move takes the same old dance, complete with cliché plot points, yet turns it into a winning routine. Starts Fri., Jan. 25. [capsule review]

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