Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mao’s Last Dancer

Bruce Beresford’s latest pic is a melodrama that will entertain you with the biopic of classic ballet dancer Li Cunxin who in 1979 defects to America from China, especially if you’re not familiar with the real-life story or haven’t read the autobiographical book. Not a masterpiece but is one of the best ballet films I have ever seen with jaw-dropping performances by Chi Cao playing Li Cunxin –as an adult- that will delight your senses thanks to great cinematography that shows whole dance sequences with beautiful dancing.

Li Cunxin’s real-life story is truly interesting and worth telling but unfortunately Beresford chosen storytelling style went more after viewers’ sympathy –and tears- and less to explore modern Chinese history or to less superficially tell motives that make someone to leave everything behind for new and unfamiliar surroundings. Thus making the story too melodramatic for my taste plus actors and non-actors performances weren’t able to save the film as most felt stiff, fragmented and/or disassociated to the story. My one exception is Joan Chen playing Cunxin’s mother and creating perhaps the only strong character from the whole movie.

Still the film is entertaining and yes, I shed a tear or two, which means that Beresford managed to create an old-fashioned tear-jerker that many will enjoy for the story but I’m sure that more will enjoy for the beautiful dancing and because of the later I do suggest to many that read the blog to not skip the film as dancing is truly worth-watching and story stops when is still a happy ending.

I had a contradictory experience with this film as I really loved the dancing but was very uncomfortable with actors’ performances, terrible storytelling style, and the lack of depth when telling very human non-pleasant life situations. Still the film was able to involve me up to the end and even to make me curious enough to find what happened to Li Cunxin after the film ends.


Watch trailer @MOC

No comments yet