POLINA – A Review By Gadi Elkon

Valérie Müller's film follows Polina's incredible journey from Moscow to Aix-En-Provence and Antwerp, and from success to disillusion.  From Angelika Film Center's website.

Here is Gadi Elkon's review of the film.

Polina is a fluid film that translates the powerful poetry of ballet to the screen.  Co-Directors Valérie Müller & Angelin Preljocaj gives us a glimpse into the life of one dancer and her journey.  Her early struggles and lessons start at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet where her talent peaks through.  As young Polina,Veronika Zhovnytska, showcases a tenderness and zeal for the world around her.  Her parents' love and adore her and even through their financial struggles try to give her the world (through ballet).  But as she ages and learns of the true sacrifices her parents are making, especially her father (Miglen Mirtchev), she becomes disillusioned.  The film's cinematography is a real treat as we see how well the movement of dance is captured and also translated into the real world tracking shots.  Editor Guillaume Saignol also has a tremendous impact on the film.  His way of perfectly mixing in mood changes with the music and the movement of the shots seems effortless.  He especially seems to have fun showcasing the stark differences between the locations in Russia, France and Belgium.  The film utilizes a nice variety of light to dark ratios and actually makes Polina seem crisp throughout. The dance sequences in the film are truly majestic and scream to the authentic nature of the dancers hired and co-director Angelina Preljocaj storied career as a dancer and choreographer.  Older Polina (played by Anastasia Shevtsova, a professional dancer who has performed with Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre) perfectly mixes with her fellow dancer turned actor Jérémie Bélingard (a star dancer with the Ballet de l’Opera de Paris, SAINT LAURENT).  Once we make it to France with Jeremie's Karl we are introduced to powerhouse Juliette Binoche.  The star actress has a her own long history with dance and gets to dive head first into this role.  She seems to connect with the role so much so that she seems majestic in every sequence.  She easily breathes life into the slower Russian sequences and allows for Polina to come across as much more intriguing film. But Polina's real breath through comes across best in the down-and-out young lady we see near the end of the film.  Her personal fall is nicely treated with the family's demise back home in Russia as her father's shady work forever alters their world.  Niels Schneider's Adrien is a nice touch of a character as his honest worrying demeanor helps ground the poetical feel of the film.  It's his character that pushes the story along and allows for Polina to finally come to the truth of her future.  Their connection is beautifully showcased with the final dance that also acts as the close fo the film.  The film may be a bit sluggish and slow, but it's hard not to fall for the up and down story of our Polina.  A film that is visually beautiful with it's cinematography but also it's message of never giving up. 

Polina can be seen at Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano. 

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