The White Crow

Tonight I ambled across to the Hackney Picturehouse to catch a screening of The White Crow – an adventure I’m not overly excited about as the trailer hardly managed to keep my attention for the 2 minutes it was on the last time I was in this cinema. However, I am motivated by:

  • Daisy really wants to see it but it’s not showing anywhere in Exeter (wtf) so I am taking one for the cinema team.
  • Hope that maybe the trailer was misleading and this will be like a sexy Black Swan vibe.
  • I rather like Ralph Fiennes, who is directing.

I’m now going to admit something that is going to make me look a right twat but I think really that ship has sailed so here goes anyway: I did not realise this was based on a true story. On the train home, I flicked through a few reviews and it became very clear that I had heavily missed the point of this film and therefore probably wasn’t in the best position to enjoy it.

It turns out, White Crow tells the true story of Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, “widely regarded as the greatest male dancer of his generation,” and the film focuses on the build up to his defection from the Soviet Union to the West. As I’ve mentioned, this is all news to me.
Good Stuff

As a grainy love letter to mid 20th century Paris, it works. It’s all muted colours and pretty men in tights pouting their way through the film, backed by fleeting camera shots of old cinemas, palaces, theatres and museums. The combination of angsty performances and script felt very real and genuine, and the small amount of dancing shown is top notch.
Bad Stuff

I noticed that my neck was hurting at 10 minutes in. After much more time had passed, I admitted to myself that I was bored and decided to look at my watch. The film had been on for 30 minutes. To be fair, that’s remarkably better than during The Post when my attention span slipped to a record breaking 4 minutes.

It’s just really, really boring. It’s not even that’s it’s too slow – the pacing is quite quick and you knock through the story fast enough, but it’s just not entertaining. The story telling flicks back and forth between time lines with little to no cohesion, meaning that I got lost pretty early on and couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm to try and figure out what was happening.

Before I understood that this is actually a biopic, I was absolutely flabbergasted as to what the point of it was. Now I can only assume that the film would work given you have a solid amount of background knowledge, as to me Rudolf Nureyev came across as a right dickhead and I would’ve been quite happy for the Russians to take him off to prison.

There’s also the worrying comparison to Bohemian Rhapsody re: ‘straight-washing,’ as Rudolf’s sexuality is made pretty unclear in the film and he was (I learnt this 5 mins ago on Wikipedia) gay. We see him have moments with both men and women in the film (more with women), but all rather fleeting and seemingly without much point.

It’s all a bit of a shame, as at the end there’s a really genuinely gripping scene which had me totally aghast and involved for a solid 10 minutes, but by that point it was all too little too late.

Sort of pointless unless you know what the hell is going on, in which case it’s probably rather nice? You tell me.

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