The White Crow - This Movie Soviet Rocks
Dir: Ralph Fiennes
Starring Oleg Ivenko, Adele Exarhopoulos, Ralph Fiennes, Chulpan Khamatova
Ralph Fiennes makes a move away from directing Shakespeare on the big screen and into the world of ballet, in particular, the early life of Rudolph Nuryev, specifically his defection from the Soviet Union in a Paris airport in 1961.
Fiennes’ film mixes the famed dancer’s fateful first (and, as it turns out, last) journey outside his native country, dancing to great acclaim in Paris, with a series of flashback. Thus, his austere childhood is caught in drab coloured but striking 16mm, while we also get to witness his earlier life of training, including his relationship with his pivotal teacher Pushkin (played by Fiennes in nice retrained, all-Russian mode), and the relationship he develops with his wife (Khamatova)
As Nuryev, debutante Oleg Ivenko impresses both in his acting and – obviously – his dancing, although at times the characterisation of the man is a little uneven, abrupt even – witness his move from naïve aesthete to arrogant prick at the flick of a switch. Similarly, Fiennes as director over emphasises the journey from childhood – show me the child and I will show you the man – yes, we get it already, Ralph! And Nuryev’s impact on the outside world during this first tour is never fully realised, something that lessens the potential loss he represents to the Soviet Union if his actions succeed.
However, the movie builds to a splendid finale, with the airport defection itself managing to be both low-key and incredibly gripping all at once. And, given recent world events involving Russian agents abroad, one that is remarkably, and somewhat unexpectedly, timely.
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