Sunday 21 April 2019

The White Crow review: 'A fine, soulful film'

4 stars

The White Crow
The White Crow
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

On June 16th, 1961, Rudolf Nureyev walked up to two plainclothes policemen in Le Bourget Airport and announced that he wanted to defect.

The 23-year-old dancer was on tour in the west with the Mariinsky Ballet, and had dazzled Parisian audiences with his bravura performances, but his enthusiasm for the French capital’s nightlife had outraged his KGB handlers, and when it came time to go home, Rudy decided he’d had enough.

That incident forms the climax of Ralph Fiennes’ diligent and lovingly made biopic, which works backwards from Le Bourget to Nureyev’s Siberian childhood and his struggles to get to the top.

Born on a train, raised in poverty, Rudolf (Oleg Ivenko) battles his way into the elite Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg, where the kindly, intuitive ballet master Pushkin (Ralph Fiennes) takes him under his wing.

Screenwriter David Hare handles the story very well, and Oleg Ivenko is a good enough dancer to convince as Nureyev in the performance sequences.

It’s a fine, soulful film.

(15A, 127mins)

Read more: 'Nureyev was a hopeless victim of his own moods - he couldn't control them' - Ralph Fiennes and David Hare on film about Russian ballet star

Also releasing this week:

Us review: 'Jordan Peele ups his cinematic game - it's a bigger, bolder, weirder and more operatically creepy production than Get Out' Minding the Gap review: 'Bing Liu’s grungy debut feature is a remarkable, unusual film'

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