Stephanie Di Giusto’s The Dancer is one of the more interesting biopics in recent memory. It’s by the book in terms of the genre’s formula and narrative structure but Di Giusto finds another way to look at her film’s biographical material.
The film documents the career and personal life of prolific performer Loïe Fuller (played by French singer/songwriter Soko). Starting with the dancer’s meek days as a farm girl and following her road to fame as a tortured artist, Di Giusto (who co-wrote the screenplay with Sarah Thibau in collaboration with Thomas Bidegain) fast-tracks Fuller’s backstory. The speed takes some adjusting and, to be honest, it’s to be expected considering the attention Fuller’s quickly acquired within the theatre community based on her grit.
The Dancer, however, truly kicks into gear when the film turns into a mesmerizing study of fame. Fuller may be respected, but she’s always preparing herself for the worse since she’s become so dependant on her audience’s approval – her passion turns into an obsession. Just when she lets her guard down, her nerves become triggered by uncontrollable factors. For instance, the audience sees Loïe’s anxiety to a great degree when a talented newcomer who is light on her feet (Lily-Rose Depp) threatens a status shift.
Though The Dancer may be guilty of using some clichés, the film proves itself by rising to the occasion. Aside from Stephanie Di Giusto’s filmmaking and Soko’s unforgettable performance, this also includes fantastic choreography and set design.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie