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Director Daniel Petrie's poignant coming-of-age drama, based on the novel by Alan Hines, stars Winona Ryder (in an early screen role) as Gemma, a young girl who has grown up in relative seclusion on a run-down farm in rural Texas. Abandoned by her mother, Juanelle (Jane Alexander), at an early age, Gemma has been raised by her cranky but devoted grandfather, Dillard (Jason Robards), and protected from the realities of the outside world. But Gemma's vision of the world is changed forever when her mother visits and attempts to convince her to come live with her in the big city of Ft. Worth. Initially, Gemma refuses, but gradually she is overwhelmed with a deep desire to know her real mother. One night Gemma runs away from home and winds up at the doorsteps of her mother's home, where she lives with her new husband (Guich Koock). Gemma learns about life in the city with Juanelle, a hard-living independent woman who spends her days working at a local beauty parlor and her nights dancing at a saloon. Gemma grows from an innocent girl to a young woman, befriending Rory (Rob Lowe), a mentally disabled and handsome young man who captures Gemma's heart. Rory and Gemma begin an innnocent courtship that quicky becomes more serious when Rory asks Gemma to marry him. Although Gemma is only 13, she becomes like a mother and wife to the young man and is profoundly affected by their close relationship. As Gemma learns about the realities of life, love, and family, she is forced to leave her youthful innocence behind in this bittersweet love story. The film features outstanding performances from young stars Ryder and Lowe.
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There are some films watched during your childhood or teenage years that have a profound effect on you and, for me, 'Square Dance' is one such film. It is nice to see it released on DVD format so promptly.
Lowe skilfully plays the role of Rory, eliciting what can only be described as an emotional reaction from myself and, I'm sure, many others who have watched this heart-warming drama. It is roles like this and his portrayal of deaf mute, Nick Andros, in Stephen King's 'The Stand' that substantiate Lowe's talent and versatility as an actor.
'Square Dance' also features Winona Ryder in her acclaimed screen debut as Gemma, a 13-year old girl tired of living in Texas with her quarrelsome grandfather (Jason Robards), and who decides to go live with her mother (Jane Alexander) in Fort Worth. Whilst there, Gemma falls in love with Rory. She also discovers some hidden truths about her mother and the father she has never met. Life in Fort Worth turns out to be not as exciting and uncomplicated as she had initially expected.
Critically acclaimed, 'Square Dance' is an emotional drama that will remain with you forever.
Music: Don Henley, Ricky Scaggs, George Strait and Trace Adkins.
Special Features: Widescreen presentation; Audio commentary by producer & director Daniel Petrie ('Cocoon: The Return' & 'A Raisin in the Sun'); Director's biography.
You will recognize him as a family member somewhere in your own family (but much nicer than in Thousand Acres!)
It is Winona Ryder that steals the show. Her future talent is all too evident here.