He who shall be named here, Ralph Fiennes, directs his third feature. The acclaimed actor and occasional filmmaker has so far based his creative focus on British writers, following his debut contemporary spin on Shakespeare's cut throat classic Coriolanus, Fiennes delivered the BAFTA nominated Dickens biopic The Invisible Woman. A way away from his previous work, taking place in the Cold War, The White Crow tells the true story of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev and his defection to the west.
Fiennes re-choreographs The Red Shoes with all the energy, risk and precision drained out of it. This dry and derivative drama follows a very similar set up to Powell and Pressburger's 1948 classic: young dancer fighting for a place at a prestigious dance school, that also happens to be touring around Europe, with the young protagonist ultimately swallowed up by their ambitions. The White Crow is gorgeously shot but its cinematography is entirely superfluous. Applying grainy film stock and a washed out colour pallet, the film subtly captures the barren and paranoid atmosphere of the Cold War era. Other than that, there is almost no purpose behind said camerawork; multiple angled building shots and repeated takes of Nureyev gazing at classical male statues.
Oleg Ivenko in the lead role of Rudolf Nureyev is so wooden that a severe risk of splinters is in order. The disgruntled ballet dancer pursues his career at Pushkin's distinguished school escaping the clutches of his Russian adversaries, but Ivenko delivers none of the desperation and passion you'd expect from someone in his position. You just don't get any sense of emotion through his monotone delivery. The White Crow cross cuts between the past and the present - which in itself is a pretty tired device within the biographical genre. To signify the changing times, the film's aspect ratio changes dramatically. Often jarring rather than skilful, The White Crow is choppy in comparison to the poised, graceful drama of its subject matter.
Despite the visual style Fiennes doesn't really offer us any real finesse. This latest work has a few interesting elements, its attractive but entirely pointless cinematography being one of them, but Ivenko's expressions are so blank and vacant that there isn't much to salvage from this dance drama with bad posture.
The White Crow:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.