Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

It stings to call Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan an indistinguishable documentary because of who the film is about.

Wendy Whelan, a prima ballerina who has perfected her craft, makes a bittersweet decision to part ways from the New York City Ballet after serving three unforgettable and historic decades.  This is undoubtably a tough change for Whelan, but she gradually comes to terms with reality after receiving perspectives on her health and legacy.

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan is an easy movie to like because of how friendly Whelan is and the eloquence of her choreography, but also because of the non-stop support Whelan receives.  The documentary is, by no means, an ego trip for the respected dancer;  it’s rather a loving goodbye from her colleagues and admirers.  Filmmakers Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger also interpret the affection in this way, resulting in an optimistic documentary that remains in the silver lining.

However, I wish the duo hadn’t chosen a cinéma vérité style to tell audiences about Wendy Whelan’s road to her final hurrahs.  This approach lends realism to the production, but the casual filmmaking undercuts Whelan’s journey and removes any chance for the audience to anticipate Whelan’s last ballet.

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan is good, but it should be great.


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