Anthony de Lioncourt’s third full length feature When We Dance the Music Dies is a psychological thriller with horror/supernatural elements. It features William Ragsdale in the lead role as Tom Watson, a father searching for answers regarding the mysterious disappearance of his daughter Audrey, playing alongside other first rate talents such as Oscar nominated Eric Roberts and Catherine Mary Stewart as Ragsdale’s wife Helen. de Lioncourt’s script draws its inspiration from the real life death of Elisa Lam, a young Asian woman whose 2013 demise under mysterious circumstances is a popular staple of Internet websites about unsolved deaths and has sparked a raft of theories, some truly bizarre, about what happened. The movie does not follow Lam’s story to the letter but, instead, uses it as a jumping off point for its own fictional take on a similar situation.
Roberts plays the leader of a cult who claim they are from another dimension and only Roberts, in his role as Clayton Riggs, can help them find their way back to this alternate world. Roberts has excelled for years playing dark and intense characters; his turn as Riggs is no exception and adds another persona to his growing gallery of eccentric character roles. The obvious emotional center of the film, however, is Ragsdale and his tortured portrayal of a man unmoored by the loss of his daughter is dramatic and heart wrenching without ever slipping into melodramatic bathos. He makes for an intense pairing with Stewart in her role as Watson’s wife Helen; the two veteran performers share an obvious chemistry in these respective parts.
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When We Dance the Music Dies accomplishes a lot despite its limited budget. de Lioncourt assumes a variety of roles for this movie; he is the film’s cinematographer as well as its screenwriter and director. His work in the former role has an almost painterly quality in the visual composition of the film and the special effects never smack of a B-level movie production but, instead, show memorable imaginative flair. This is a mature and considered cinematic work in every respect; de Lioncourt eschews any cheap contrivances of plot or characterization to achieve his desired effects and audiences will never feel cheated by this film.
In an age of budget busting superhero films and seemingly endless sequels, When We Dance the Music Dies reminds viewers of the virtues that drive solid storytelling. On point casting, an excellent pace, plausible narrative twists, and a measured approach to visual effects are some of the key ingredients mixed together here to make de Lioncourt’s new film one of the more impressive indie film productions in recent memory and a must-see for any devotees of the psychological thriller genre. It’s a movie well worth seeking out and has all of the necessary attributes to hold up under repeated viewings rather than being another disposable film experience forgotten soon after the final credits scroll past. de Lioncourt and his cast have delivered in an impressive way with this work and deserve recognition for their achievement.