A big heart and a blunt plot run through “Shine,” a movie whose story is there mostly just to usher in a dance sequence or an earnest speech.
Directed by Anthony Nardolillo and set in Spanish Harlem, “Shine” finds Ralphi (Jorge Burgos) returning home after seven years. He had left following the death of his loving father (David Zayas) and found success in the corporate world. The company he works for is now ordering him to help gentrify the very neighborhood he abandoned.
Ralphi’s assignment runs counter to what he’d been taught as a youth — dedication to the Puerto Rican community, loyalty to his family — and, as expected, he’s branded a traitor by his former flame, Josie (Kimberli Flores), and his brother, Junior (Gilbert Saldivar). Before long he’s forced to choose between his conscience and his career.
Salsa music and dance seep into nearly every moment and are often the better parts of the scenes. Early sequences show Ralphi and Junior in action; later ones, set in clubs and studios, place yet more movement in the background. A let’s-put-on-a-show finale wraps it all together.
Both Mr. Burgos and Mr. Saldivar are professional dancers and they deliver the steps, though the dialogue can be cumbersome. Still, the salsa scenes are the main draw here, and while the camerawork is unremarkable — zoom in, then pull back, then repeat — the energy stays high. No matter where these characters wind up, it seems, a dance will soon break out.
Rated R for language. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes.