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An inside look at the world of ballet. With the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Altman follows the stories of the dancers, whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close, as they cope with the demands of a life in the ballet. Campbell plays a gifted but conflicted company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer at a fictional Chicago troupe, with McDowell the company's co-founder and artistic director, considered one of America's most exciting choreographers. Franco plays Campbell's boyfriend and one of the few characters not involved in the world of dance. Written by
Andrea Barney <andrea808@hotmail..com>
Beautiful ballet scenes with token romance plot spliced in. 6/10.
The ballet sequences are probably the most breathtaking we've seen in a fiction film. Altman succeeds in putting ballet in the fore, instead of characters or story. This was his intention, and on this front he gets a 8/10. However, where there are not ballet scenes, there is a story: Neve Campbell wrote it. And she seems not to have seen any other romance movie since the dawn of time. Its just the kind of romance subplot a little girl WOULD write: with soft lighting, flickering candlelight, a beautiful boy who does nothing wrong, listens to your problems, sleeps with you, and lets you get on with your dancing. He appears when it is convenient for both Neve and Bob Altman to insert a romantic scene: and just as gimmicky a brushstroke as this, is his entrance always being marked by the same song, My Funny Valentine. It was nice how they had four different versions of the song, for different moods: the upbeat poolhall number for their meeting, the romantic one for the seduction, and a more melancholy one when she's missing him. Anyone who knows this song (most of us), feel how gimmicky a device this is when it arrives again.
So far is this from the dramatic conflict between love and dancing in Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes that we're almost barren of any narrative drive or dramatic conflict at all. That's my main problem with The Company - nothing goes wrong. Or when it does go wrong (raining on the night of a performance), it always serves to improve the moment for the protagonists: indeed it is an incredible scene, Neve dancing a duet with a Joffret dancer. A moving, beautiful dance. But that's precicely the problem: there is no problem!
Malcolm McDowell is no good. He gets a C-. He tries, but its so obvious throughout that he knows not a jot about ballet, and he just walks around play-acting at a ballet coach from the movies, while the real Joffret coaches tell the dancers what they need to know. And his calling everyone "babies" is a clumsy attempt to create character through a catchphrase.
Beautiful ballet scenes, A+ for putting the dancing centre-stage, so to speak (as opposed to the tawdry melodrama called Centre Stage). But all we've got to go on narrative-wise is a thin-as-a-ballet-ribbon romance subplot. If this wasn't there, actually, it might have been a very successful art movie - but its gimmicky presence is so clumsy its a fault.
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