Michael Minetti (Cheyenne Jackson) is tall, beautiful, bitter, and ripped. A former Broadway dancer, he now teaches ballroom dances to old women in their living rooms, which is a good reason to be bitter. But Michael claims his prickliness is self-defense, as a gay man, against the judgment of his newest student, Lily (Gena Rowlands). Lily’s husband was a priest from South Carolina, and Michael, angry at being back in Florida, where he grew up, imagines him to be a bigot. Soon after arriving at Lily’s apartment, Michael picks a fight and Lily asks him to leave.
This exhausting, childish pattern will be repeated for each of the six dance lessons referenced in the title of the film, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.
Rowlands is an interesting, engaging actor, but she’s constrained by Richard Alfieri’s flat script and Jackson’s manic, dogged affect. The one exception, when Michael takes Lily out to a real dance on the town, is the film’s high point.
Surrounded by talented duos gliding across the dance floor, Lily and Michael are rare and happy in a way that hints at the implicit but never quite harnessed passion for movement that is the movie’s premise and promise. For a film whose central motif is dance, there’s remarkably little dancing done onscreen, and though Rowland and her co-star share moments of tender, revealing conversation, the movie is ultimately underwhelming, its emotional range as limited as that of its characters.