Square Dance

Winona Ryder as: Gemma Dillard
Directed by: Daniel Petrie
Written by: Alan Hines (novel)
Other cast: Rob Lowe, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander
Release date: Feb 20, 1987 (Wide)
Genre: Drama
Running time: 118min

Thirteen-year-old Gemma (Winona Ryder) is an upstanding young woman who does well in school, spouts Bible verses with ease, and helps out on the farm where she lives with her grandfather, Pop (Jason Robards). But when her mother (Jane Alexander) visits to offer Gemma a place with her and her husband in the city, Gemma realizes she has a choice. Fed up with the cantankerous Pop, she leaves to join her mother in Fort Worth. Gemma's new life starts out well enough: she and her mother bond; she gets a stylin' new haircut; and she meets Rory (Rob Lowe), an idiot savant who can't boil water but can play the fiddle like it's Georgia and he's just met the Devil. Despite a disturbing age difference (Rory looks about 21 to Gemma's 13), Gemma and Rory become fast friends and then more. Their innocent flirting soon leads to a kiss and talk of marriage. But when Gemma, escaping from an argument between her mother and stepfather, runs to find Rory, she finds more than she bargained for, and her idyllic new life begins to crumble around her.


Square Dance gained a positive reception, but was a box office bomb. However, Rob Lowe was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor The film later aired as an NBC movie of the week under the title Home is Where the Heart Is.

This was the opening night film at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival. Winona Ryder attended the premiere, which screened at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City.


  • The role was a real challenge, a character that was my absolute opposite.
    Winona about Gemma
  • A great kid – very talented, very intelligent.
    Daniel Petrie about Winona
  • Film Locations

    Maypearl, Texas, USA
    Waxahachie, Texas, USA

    Promoting the Movie

    There’s no picture record of the movie premiere itself, but Winona and Rob Lowe attended together the 1988 Golde Globes, since he was nominated as Best Actor.