Young Critic Hattie Findlay-Wilson discovers the legendary tale of defection to the west in the biography ballet, The White Crow
Written by David Hare and directed by Ralph Fiennes, The White Crow tells the story of the iconic ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev.
In the 1960s, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev (portrayed by Oleg Ivenko) is a sensation in the Soviet Union and is part of its renowned Mariinsky Ballet Company. The company sets out to tour the West, visiting Paris and London, during the tensions of the Cold War. In Paris, Nureyev’s rebellious and stubborn character leads him to visit gay clubs and socialise with Parisians, forming a close friendship with the wealthy Clara Saint (portrayed by Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Colour). This behaviour angers his management who are loyal to the USSR and want Nureyev to remain a loyal part of Russian culture, threatening Nureyev’s future as a dancer.
The aesthetics of The White Crow are undoubtedly beautiful, due to its setting in the luxurious Paris and St. Petersburg. The inclusion of art galleries and its inevitable display of highly-skilled ballet add to this. Professionally a dancer and model, Ivenko should be praised for his performance of Nureyev, as this is his first acting role. He convincing portrays Nureyev as the audacious and stubborn dancer he was, enough so that you do not always empathise with the character.
The film as a whole, however, has not excelled. Despite the ending, which was gripping, The White Crow is extremely slow. There are many scenes which are neither interesting nor entirely relevant. Furthermore, it is often difficult to distinguish between the main storyline and the flashbacks of six years earlier. This leads to a lot of confusion about the main narrative. Fortunately, it is something you can get to grips with.
By Hattie Findlay- Wilson