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This has been getting a belated reputation (I admit to being totally unfamiliar with it prior to a recommendation from a Maltese friend of mine last week!) as a sort of dry-run for one of last year's most acclaimed films, BLACK SWAN. In fact, it similarly deals with a young and beautiful ballerina whose life is inextricably altered when she applies for the starring role of the famous Tchaikovsky opus "Swan Lake" (though here everything eventually works its way to a happy ending).
While it does not go into the psychological avenues taken by Darren Aronofsky's recent effort, the film nonetheless plays out like a Kafkaesque thriller with the two protagonists (the hero is a likable fellow American who happens to stay on the same floor of her Budapest hotel) sucked in by a vortex of surreal events that literally transcends the passage of time! If anything, ETOILE also recalls Hitchcock's VERTIGO (1958) in equal measures, as ageing and crippled impresario/dancer(!) Laurent Terzieff moulds leading lady Jennifer Connelly (still in her Euro-fantasy phase that had kicked off with Dario Argento's typically elaborate PHENOMENA  and also comprised Jim Henson's kiddie film LABYRINTH ) into a prima ballerina from a past age who had perished tragically after a performance. Interestingly, 17 year-old Connelly though she is meant to be spell-bound and, thus, also unable to recognize the young man slips into the intricacies of her dual role much more easily than Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN!
A dilapidated country-house also plays a central part in the 're-enactment' where the male lead (whose life had until then been controlled by art-collecting uncle Charles Durning, who is himself mysteriously hypnotized at one point, gets violent towards his relative and hit by a passing car!) eventually goes to meet the evil head-on just as the Tchaikovsky ballet is being played out on stage. He has to fight with a giant black swan which, when he kills, Terzieff falls dead in mid-performance elsewhere! In the end, while hardly a lost classic, this is a reasonably interesting (and stylish) effort, regardless of the BLACK SWAN connotations which will probably be attributed to it from here on in
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