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“It’s likely he had an explosion of character,” says a weary Alexander Pushkin (Ralph Fiennes, who also directed), during an interrogation about the defection to the west of his former student, Rudolf Nureyev (played by Ukrainian-born dancer Oleg Ivenko). It’s the kind of loaded euphemism that could be applied to this flamboyantly ambitious but uneven film, which switches colour palette and time period as casually as Nureyev swapped lovers.
An account of the Russian dancer’s life up until the point of his defection, the picture is too sprawling and undisciplined to fully engage. It lacks the flowing logic between scenes which Pushkin encourages the young Nureyev to develop between each dance step.
And yet there are moments of greatness here – in the climax of the final act, the defection itself – where the direction is as lean and agile as any of the dancers.
Equally impressive is the quality of the dance on screen. Sergei Polunin is eye-catching in a supporting role, and Ivenko makes for a compellingly fiery Nureyev, whose appeal, as one awed French dancer observes, is in “the spirit, rather than technical perfection”.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The White Crow review – a jumpy spin on Nureyev | Film