BARELY ABLE TO SEE ABOVE THE heads of the people sitting in front of me, I watched in astonishment the man leaping in the air. The stage had been filled with dancers dressed in costumes that glittered under the stage lights. Most of the costumes were white in color, but some were the exact opposite in black. The male dancer in the lead role reminded me of royalty because of the way he moved across the stage when he was not leaping and spinning. With angular features for his face, his body on the other hand moved consistently with graceful fluidity. I was too young to realize the amount of work it must have taken him to be able to jump so high without a running start or to spin so quickly in the same spot; his moves at times would make the audience quietly gasp in their seats. The music the orchestra was playing was familiar to me because we had a recording of it at home. I would play it from time to time, never realizing that people were hired to dance to the music. Ballet was something foreign to me at the time. I was aware of it having seen clips of dancers on television or in a movie; but I had never seen a live performance of it up until this time. The male lead dancer in this performance was Rudolf Nureyev. WHEN I DELVED INTO THE FITNESS world as a profession, it was there I discovered the amount of work a dancer must do to make their performances seem effortless. One training class I took was based on dance moves and it was intense for me. Holding positions, working my core, and being able to give instructions to a class at the same time was a challenge. Imagine doing a side plank pose where you are on your side on the floor, balancing only on the side of your bottom foot and the hand from your extended arm. Now raise up you other leg and hold it in the air; trust me, you will feel it in your core. The first time I tried to do this I rolled over onto the floor. It took me some time to build up my strength to master the pose. I knew if I wanted to be an effective fitness instructor, I would have to put in the work to make it happen. It is no different for any profession, but I feel there is a slight difference when your profession involves performing in front of an audience. WITH ONLY ONE PURPOSE IN MIND Rudolf Nureyev, played by newcomer Oleg Ivenko, was willing to work hard to become a top ballet dancer. Nothing would stop him, even his own country. This biographical drama also starred Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Pushkin, Louis Hofmann (Sanctuary, Land of Mine) as Teja Kremke, Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color, Racer and the Jailbird) as Clara Saint and Sergei Polunin (Red Sparrow, Murder on the Orient Express) as Yuri Soloviev. Set during the time of the Cold War, this film festival winner was something I wanted to see since I had seen Rudolf perform. His story was probably more interesting than what the script offered here. I would start to get interested in the story and then the scene would shift to a different time in Rudolf’s life; I found this jumping back and forth more of a distraction then a story telling technique. For someone who commanded the stage with a bigger than life personality; this movie seemed out of step with his story.
2 stars — DVD
There is something special about one’s first love. I am not talking about a school crush; it is the first serious love where you think you could spend your entire life with that one incredible person. The reason you want to be with them is because of the way you feel around them; a change comes over you. As you near them; an invisible aromatic cloud swirls around you, making your nostrils quiver. At first contact your skin ripples with electric sparks as you willingly fall into this inviting hug, that feels as if it is enveloping you into the folds of a soft warm comforter. You take every new memory that the two of you have created and store it in a velvet lined room of your heart, with walls impervious to pain…or at least you thought so. I cannot recall the last time I was so emotionally drained from watching a romantic movie, such as this Cannes Film Festival winning film. Adele Exarchopoulos (La Rafle, Boxes) played young Adele, who was on the verge of discovering the intoxication of a first love. The jolt that awakened her was in the form of blue haired Emma, played by Lea Seydoux (Midnight in Paris, Inglourious Basterds). Adele’s journey into love would bring her into a world of new revelations. The acting in this dramatic movie was exceptional with a rawness and realness that went beyond most other films I have seen. I could not take my eyes off of Adele as she conveyed every emotion without a filter. This movie is not without some challenges, however. Running for nearly 3 hours, I found some scenes were unduly drawn out. Tighter editing would have helped in this matter. Another issue was the explicit sexual scenes. I am aware some people are uncomfortable seeing any type of strong physical intimacy, so this movie may not fit your comfort level. What took me some time to realize was the amazing job the director showed in Adele’s growth from young innocence to an assertive adult woman. Did he need three hours to accomplish it? I do not think so; but the fact that this is one of two chapters, I will be curious to see how memories of her first love propel Adele forward in life. French language with English subtitles.
3 1/4 stars