If It Were Love review – a dance doc powered by the exuberance of youth | Film

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There is a delicate mixture of sensuality and creativity in this documentary. Patric Chiha follows the rehearsal and performance of a dance piece called Crowd by the Franco-Austrian artist and choreographer Gisèle Vienne, about the 90s club scene. The film follows the dance itself and stages one-on-one conversation scenes in which the young dancers talk about each other and the characters they play – a higher gossip, perhaps, about their lives and how this fictional creation shapes their sense of themselves and their sexuality.

Compared with, say, Gaspar Noé’s orgiastic dance movie Climax, If It Were Love is certainly more calm and less mad, more ruminative and less confrontational. Perhaps what it is about fundamentally is youth, something each dancer radiates unknowingly: a pure energy and abandon and openness.

It would be better to witness this dance piece live (a Covid-era yearning) but there is something interesting in seeing this eternal theme of youth explored and embodied. A dancer might talk about how a kiss did not happen with another character on stage – or, alternatively, that it did happen – and the exchange feels personally charged and intimate, like a conversation taking place after a party, with people confiding who they think they are in love with. And of course to some extent these conversations themselves are fictional performances, which the film builds into the official choreography.

If It Were Love is probably more of a festival event film than anything, but it is valuable and pregnant with ideas.

• Released on 11 February on Mubi.

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Source: The Guardian
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