Part life story and part political thriller, The White Crow is effective at both. Producer/director Ralph Fiennes’ examination of the life and defection from Russia of dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev is filled with moments of wonder and tension.
Many of the dance scenes are fantastic and really sell the feeling that the dancers are floating in the air. This illusion is reinforced by having a professional dancer play the lead role of Nureyev. First time Ukrainian actor Oleg Ivenko inhabits the role with substantial effect and even looks the part.
Nureyev was one of Ballet’s true greats and he is played here as the pampered and egotistical rock star he was. He bucked the system and was unafraid to taunt his oppressors. This was always going to lead to trouble and in Fiennes’ hands the defection scene is very tense. Sweaty palms stuff.
Rudolf Nureyev, who died in 1993 led a most extraordinary life during a period of enormous change for both Russia and the world at large. The White Crow is an intriguing example of one life that contributed a lot to the multifaceted mosaic of the times.