The Dublin born director of East Is East (1999) and Heartlands (2002) returns home for this gentle if slightly predictable comedy about two young wheelchair-bound men who yearn to experience all the excitement life has to offer. Michael (an excellent performance by newcomer Robertson) suffers from severe cerebral palsy and lives in a dull Dublin nursing home, run with a maternal practicality by Eileen (Fricker). All's meandering along quietly until the outspoken Rory (McAvoy), suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, arrives and begins flaunting authority at every available juncture. Desperate to forge a life outside the safe and predictable walls of the nursing home, he convinces Michael that independence is the only option available to them, especially if a local girl, Siobhan (Garai) agrees to be their personal carers.
A film which wears its big heart on its sleeve, Inside I'm Dancing is a broad, uncomplicated coming of age comedy-drama. By keeping the tone light, the comedy accessible and the characters vaguely spiky, O'Donnell doesn't really complicate matters, but doesn't patronise those at the heart of his film, either. Yet the screenplay follows a rather predictable arc, with the ending obvious to anyone who has paid the film the slightest bit of attention. In terms of performances, Robertson, an acclaimed stage actor, is superb, while McAvoy is also impressive, even if he's a little showier than is strictly necessary.