Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2022 7:53 pm 
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An up-and-coming ballet star gets injured and saves her career by switching from classical to less demanding modern dance in this visually enjoyable but cinematically clichéd new feature from Cédric Klapisch.

Let's make a feature film about dance, thought Klapisch, who the year before did a documentary about the Paris Opera Ballet. He indeed provides some gorgeous early classical dance shots early on and some soulful, relaxed modern dance ones later on. The dialogue rings false or is cliched throughout; Klapisch and his co-writer Santiago Amigorena don't seem to have gone to great trouble to construct a wholly credible, un-cliched plot. The subject has seemed to lend itself to lurid conceptions like Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan: the early scenes bear out the notion that classical ballet is exquisite torture, combined with emotional suffering, since Elise, KLapisch's lead, played by the very winning Marion Barbeau, herself a dancer both classical and modern, pointedly learns she's been dumped by her dance company boyfriend just before she slips; the dumping is either a portent or a cause. Her "kiné", plaayed by It Boy François Civil, who featured in several previous Klapisch features, mouths a lot of nonsense about body and mind and magically restoring her: actually he's just got the hots for her, of course, and is hoping to get her on the double-rebound, having just been dumped himself, as he shows by a comically exaggerated fit of crying.

But though Yann's man-bun and granny glasses are adorable, Elise is more interested in a partner in her new thing, the modern dance company she just happens to fall into while on a trip to her native Brittany to help out a cook at an arts center. One male interest is Robinson (Robinson Cassarino), Elise's new dancing partner. Another man in her life is Loïc, the arts center's virtuoso chef, played by busy actor Pio Marmaï. But the guy she's interested in now is Mehdi (Mehdi Baki), also in the modern dance company. When Yann learns this after returning from Goa and come to Brittany just to see Elise, he has another fit of weeping, this time off stage. Action at the arts center is grounded by its director, Josiane, a Simone Signoret type with a limp and crutch played by Muriel Robin who spouts wisdom about life.

Elise's annoying and unsympathetic father is effortlessly performed by the prolific Denis Podalydès. It's a perfunctory role as well as performance that arouses little interest in the viewer.

Since Klapisch wanted to make a movie about dance, it has to be full of dancers - real ones, and here, the film shiines. Notable is the person who plays himself more or less as Hofesh, the director of the modern dance company Elise falls into, Israeli choreographer, dancer and composer Hofesh Shechter, director of his own titular company based in London, whose reputation there is signaled by his OBE (order of the British Empire). (He received a 2016 Tony nomination for the choreography in Bartlett Sher's revival of Fiddler on the Roof. ) He talks to his dancers in English. They practice and develop ideas at the Breton arts center, where Elise joins in, and they have a climactic Paris performance, in which Elise triumphantly performs. By now her injury seems miraculously cured, aided by the psychological and physical benefits of dancing and love-making.

Letterboxd review: leno
Review by leno ★★★ (translated from the French):
i think the adjective to describe this film is nice. it's a nice film. we laugh at françois civil and pio marmaï, we're a little moved, we find it beautiful, it's nice. then it's about dancing so it's impossible for me to be insensitive to it...
The [3/5-star rating is] for the dialogues which sounded very false I find, very personal development, seen and seen again, and the color+costumes of the film which gave a rendering much more aesthetic than realistic. It was very similar to [Someone, Somewhere/Deux Moi, his previous film, in that respect.
the dance performances are to die for
I feel a bit mean writing my review because there were some great actors and great scenes (the one with Muriel Robin and the pear!)

Rise (its French title is a bit of untranslatable word play) seems more enjoyable than Klapisch's previous feature, the drawn-out meet-cute Someone, Somewhere/Deux moi (R-V 2020)(2019), which seemed just a glib conceptual tease. Here there is lots of warm, engaging action and above all, lots of dancing. The actual fictional structure is rather perfunctory, however; this isn't up to his best work but it gives some engaging actors something to do. One is kept well amused till one realizes how conventional and perfunctory the story arc has turned out to be.

Rise/En corps, 117 mins., debuted at Paris Cinema Club Jan. 31, 2022; its second appearance, where it was screened for this review, was at the UniFrance-FLC Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (Mar. 3-13) on Mar. 9, 2022. The French theatrical release was Mar. 30, 2022; the AlloCiné press rating was 3.5 (70%) and the spectators' rating was 4.0 (80%).

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