Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB .
USA, 2015. Yes, Ma’am!. Story by Anna Rose Holmer, Saela Davis, Lisa Kjerulff, Screenplay by Anna Rose Holmer. Cinematography by Paul Yee. Produced by Anna Rose Holmer, Lisa Kjerulff. Music by Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans. Production Design by Charlotte Royer. Costume Design by Zachary Sheets. Film Editing by Saela Davis. Gotham Awards 2016. Independent Spirit Awards 2016. National Board of Review Awards 2016.
Royalty Hightower is exceptionally good as Toni, a pre-teen girl who works out at her brother’s gym where he is training as a boxer. One day she catches a glimpse of girls heading into practice with their dance troupe, and is immediately fascinated by their combination of athletic rigour and sparkly glamour. Applying and entering as a new recruit, she makes new friends and works hard to get the moves down, while the older members of the troupe start to be affected by a mysterious, possibly contagious sleeping illness that strikes without warning. Is it peer pressure or is something viral really going around? These are things that Toni witnesses while herself doing uncharacteristic things like piercing her ears (herself) to fit in better. Short but potent, Anna Rose Holmer’s feature is a fascinating assembly of enigmatic elements that fit together just right, very little is explained but a great deal is understood thanks to perceptive characters and expert cinematography. Toni doesn’t say much throughout the film, but thanks to Hightower’s exceptional work her inner life is very much within reach.