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“The White Crow” Dramatic and Heartfelt






Review by John Delia

A moving dramatic biography, The White Crow, opens this weekend and it’s not only a magnificent production, but a reminder of one of the most remarkable events in history. If you have heard of Rudolf Nureyev than you have a good idea of why he was a spark that helped to melt the cold war. If not then you are in for an enlightening of the extraordinary dancer’s challenging life.

The movie introduces Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko) who has already reached high regard in dancing, mainly ballet. During the course of the film however, we get glimpses of his early underprivileged childhood and his ability to use it to better himself. But the story here shows the man who used that pent up desire to proliferate his being the best dancer in the world for his time.

Oleg Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev, Adèle Exarchopoulosas as Clara Saint
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Director Ralph Fiennes shows it was not all bonbons and roses, as he uses Ivenko’s ability to dance and a temperament that depicts Nureyev as selfish, demanding, temperamental, strong willed, thankless, and a brilliant egoist. It’s that persona that made him great using each of those things to bring out his talent and avoid being used as a pawn. Excellent on the part of Fiennes, it makes the film credible on why he’s able to make the choice that set the world on its ear.

The acting by the whole cast is very good, but there are standouts. As Nureyev, Oleg Ivenko pulls off a performance of a lifetime, playing the infamous Russian in his very first film. Resembling the famous dancer in many ways and with the ability to depict in both his dancing and persona of Nureyev, he mimics every move and each expression to bring him to life on the screen.

Oleg Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev, Ralph Fiennes as Alexander Pushkin
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Playing the part of Nureyev’s love interest Clara Saint is veteran actress Adèle Exarchopoulos. Clara’s the only one who can break through the shell of his disadvantaged past and reach inside to give him solace. When he gives her a frantic call from the airport wanting freedom from Russia’s stranglehold, she takes charge of the situation. She’s a very good actress and supplies the chemistry to make the film work.

Although the film is brilliant and intriguing, much like Bridge of Spies it leans a bit too much toward the defection of Nureyev, rather than his dancing. With a golden opportunity to have Oleg Ivenko with his credentials for dancing, I was hoping to see a good measure of his ballet abilities.

Oleg Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

As a note a “cold war” is defined by Wikipedia as a state of conflict between nations that does not involve direct military action, but is pursued primarily through economic and political actions, propaganda, acts of espionage or proxy wars waged by surrogates. The term however is relatives in this instance and used commonly to refer to Soviet Russia (U.S.S.R.) vs USA that was reaching the freezing point between the two nations in 1961 at the height of Nureyev’s career. Only used as a reference in this film, for Americans Nureyev’s defection was a signal of weakness by Russia with other nations like France and Great Britain witnessing the strain between their countries and the Soviet Union.

The White Crow has been rated R for some sexuality, graphic nudity, and language. It gets played out in the Russian, French and English language with easy to read subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The film has heart, intrigue and romance, a played out with high energy. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Oleg Ivenko, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Ralph Fiennes, Raphaël Peronnaz, Chulpan Khamatova, Sergei Polunin, Calypso Valois, Louis Hofmann, Olivier Rabourdin, Farida Nureyev, Aleksey Morozov
Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
Genre: Biography, Drama, Dance
Language: Russian, French, English
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality, graphic nudity, and language
Running Time: 2 hr. 7 min.
Opening Date: May 10, 2019
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Released in: Standard

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