An American ballerina arrives in Hungary to enroll in a ballet school and it soon becomes apparent that things are not what they seem.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Claire Hamilton / Natalie Horvath
Gary McCleery ...
Jason Forrest (as Gary Mc Cleery)
...
Marius Balakin
Olimpia Carlisi ...
Madam
Mario Marozzi
Donald Hodson ...
(as Donal Hodson)
...
Zio Joshua
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An American ballerina arrives in Hungary to enroll in a ballet school and it soon becomes apparent that things are not what they seem.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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17 March 1989 (Italy)  »

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Ballet  »

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A stinker -forerunner of BLACK SWAN
10 January 2011 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Thanks to a poor script and the woeful direction of Peter Del Monte, ETOILE was a flop in 1988, never released (to this day) in the U.S. despite being filmed in English with American leading actors. Suddenly it takes on new interest as a direct forerunner of the current hit BLACK SWAN.

Jennifer Connelly, who gives a glazed performance especially compared with the all-stops-out tour de force of Natalie Portman, plays an American ballerina named Claire traveling to Budapest to further her career. She is possessed by the spirit of a ballerina from 1891 who danced her final performance there in "Swan Lake".

A chilling early scene has Claire receiving a bouquet of black flowers with a note: "Welcome back Natalie". This refers to the 1891 ballerina named Natalie Horvath, but today gives off an eerie note with the coincidence of actress Portman's first name some 22 years later in such a similar role.

Both films deal with loss of identity, but ETOILE adopts a very cornball Gothic romance style which falls flat. In fact everything about the film is flat except Connelly's torso (see her in CAREER OPPORTUNITIES made a couple of years later and you'll see what I mean). The romantic male lead Gary McCleery (whose career went nowhere) is terrible - a blank space on the screen, and an endless subplot concerning his uncle, played hammily by Charles Durning, obsessed with buying rare clocks, merely kills time.

The ballet master was well-cast with Laurent Terzieff, a wonderful, creepy looking French actor, better casting than Vincent Cassel in the new film, but unfortunately Terzieff has little to do. Similarly, scarily beautiful Olimpia Carlisi is wasted as an evil black queen figure.

In the '80s I watched all of Del Monte's films that were in fact imported to America -watching them in 35mm I can give a fair appraisal. SWEET PEA was merely cute, I greatly enjoyed INVITATION AU VOYAGE (which was an art-house flop here when released by Columbia's Triumph Films subsidiary), and JULIA & JULIA was a disaster, a millstone on Kathleen Turner's otherwise booming career at the time. With ETOILE Del Monte comes off as just another hack.


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