I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Polina dreams of being a ballet dancer as a little girl in Moscow, but she can never seem to satisfy her teacher… an obstacle that troubles her even as she hones her technique and gains admission to the prestigious Bolshoi and later a school of modern dance in France (where Juliette Binoche [Let the Sunshine In] will teach her). Is she too cold and unemotional a dancer, as she keeps hearing? Or does she have to find her own path to expression? Maybe she just needs to grow up and experience life outside of school and studio in order to understand herself? It’s all of the above in this marvelous paean to everything that goes into making great art: hard work, complicated humanity, taking risks, and trusting one’s own instincts. Russian dancer Anastasia Shevtsova is tremendous as Polina, a young woman with an indomitable — and hard-nosed — spirit in the face of enormous obstacles… many of them within herself. Women onscreen don’t often get to be stubborn and difficult in the pursuit of their passions, and it’s often hard to like Polina, though she earns our respect beautifully.
Polina was the Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ Movie of the Week for August 25th, 2017. Read the comments from AWFJ members — including me — on why the film deserves this honor.