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Movie Review: The White Crow

If you’re even remotely into ballet you’ll know about the white swan. If you’re into movies you’ll remember the Black Swan. But, and now here’s the real test, do you know who the White Crow is?

Inspired by the book “Rudolf Nureyev: The Life”, The White Crow movie is the latest in a string of biopic movies. This time about the legendary dancer. The story is not new – talented, brash, impoverished young man goes abroad to seek his fortune. What is different however is the political era in which the story plays out.

As a member of the Kirov Ballet company, Nureyev is required to tow the line. To live and socialise with his own. But this does not suit the inquiring eccentric nature of the young man. One night, at an arranged social gathering Nureyev takes a handful of steps across the room to introduce himself to dancers from a local company. A few steps that will open his eyes to another world, and be echoed later in another few steps that will change his life for ever.

With the company assembled at Paris’ Le Bourget Airport, everyone is saying their goodbyes as they move on from Paris to London. But, having been under the watchful eye of Russian authorities, Nureyev is told he won’t be going on to London, that he must return home. Knowing what that will means Nureyev refuses to go. A dramatic standoff follows as he looks to those around him for help.

A local friend Clara Saint (Adele Exarchopoulous), who just happens to be a Chilean heiress, is called in to help. As a result the dancer soon finds himself in an empty room with 45 minutes to made a decision, a decision that must be made alone. Door one will take him back to Russia and his family. Door two the freedom he craves, but with no possibility of seeing his mother again. What to do?

Thanks to Universal Pictures

Thanks to a series of flashbacks the audience is fully cognisant of what it has taken for Nureyev to get to this position, and what he is being asked to give up. The clever use of one last flashback makes sense of all the previous ones, which could otherwise have felt disjointed.

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The tension felt in the pivotal scene was extraordinary, especially given we know the outcome. The quiet silence onscreen was echoed in the audience.

It must have been hard casting the part of Nureyev. Do you look for an actor who can dance or a dancer who can act? How about an acclaimed Ukrainian dancer in his first film role? The gamble paid off as real-life dancer Oleg Ivenko is perfect. The physicality required of him throughout the movie was intimidating to we mere mortals. His dancing is impeccable, which is no mean feat considering who he is trying to emulate. His acting totally believable, you’d never know it was his first film role.

Ralph Fiennes is masterfully subdued as St. Petersburg’s most respected dance instructor who sees something in Nureyev’s passion. His presence is a reminder that all you need is one loyal supporter.

It was fascinating to read that not only was Fiennes the director, but Liam Neeson was executive producer.

The White Crow is a fascinating look into the life of Rudolf Nureyev. A tense, inspiring, sexy study of the physical dedication, and emotional discipline required to reach the top.

For more information go to Luna Cinemas

For the trailer click here

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