The White Crow directed by Ralph Fiennes [5/10]

Rudolph Nureyev’s legend is of the boorish creative of sublime gifts. “The White Crow,” directed by Fiennes and co-scripted by David O’Hare, does a modest biopic on that part of his life up to his 1961 defection from the Soviet Union to the West. Lit throughout by an arty sensibility, the film dovetails the amazing defection with flashbacks to Nureyev’s tutelage six years earlier with an aging ballet director (played convincingly but gracelessly by Fiennes himself), and to greyish, moving, poverty-stricken childhood sequences. Debut actor Olev Ivenko portrays Nureyev with wonderful, freewheeling dancing and a character portrayal that almost captures what I imagine the star’s admixture of arrogance and inspiration to be. My contempt for ballet did not help me with enjoyment, but the flaccid script in the middle third also does the narrative a disservice. The final tension-filled airport defection scene almost rescues what is an interesting but not riveting film that should have aspired higher.

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