Director Robert Altman turns his unequaled mastery of compound character ensemble films to the life of ballet dancers. Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet is the setting for this sincere love letter to working class dancers with Neve Campbell (“Wild Things”) playing Ry, a young woman on the verge of becoming a principal dancer while seeking love in the arms of Josh (James Franco) a local chef. Malcolm McDowell delivers transcendental nuances as the company’s sovereign director Alberto Antonelli. The film’s narrative lacks a significant arc and too many versions of the Rogers and Hart classic “My Funny Valentine” reduces emotional impact of the film’s otherwise rich musical score. Dance sequences, both in the studio and in performance, make up the symbolic and potent thrust of this enjoyable yet confined movie.
Rated PG-13. 102 mins (B) (Three Stars)