WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
How far would you go to achieve a dream? What lengths would you strive to accomplish a sought after goal and see everything you’ve ever desired come to pass? Would it all be worth the potential costs of secrets unrevealed? Opportunity is knocking hard at the door of one particular ballerina named Emma (Dorothee Gilbert), a chance to shine and become the lead dancer for performances of Ravel’s iconic “Bolero” at the prestigious Bolshoi. Yet, Emma is decidedly distracted, and it’s only during a dressing room moment prior to an integral rehearsal that she ultimately shares with her friend and fellow dancer Victoire (Antonia Desplat) an otherwise hidden truth which is both joyous and concerning.
Even in the face of Victoire’s admonishments, Emma swears her to silence even as they arrive to an initial warm-up session late, much to the consternation of the Ballet Master, Youri (Pierre Deladonchamps). It is none to soon that Pierre discovers Emma’s plight and, knowing the effect it could have on her ability to gain the position she seeks, also chooses to remain quiet, even as the ballet’s Director Mille Jean (Catherine Deneuve) watches on. Continuing to struggle with the decision she has to make while also being intensely uptight about the chance Victoire might get the coveted Prima Ballerina spot, Emma makes a choice to come clean that has a more unexpected reaction and highly inspirational ramification than she could have ever hoped.
Next, my Mind:
For this reviewer, there is never enough to be said about watching a narrative that takes the notion of a dreamer chasing their mountain top, finding the road challenging, encountering the possibility of losing that dream due to hidden certainties, then finding they have the support and understanding from an unanticipated source which leads to a euphoric high. Such is the case here with director James Bort and writer Stephane Landowski’s beautifully orchestrated 19-minute short film effort that engages the viewer with a tale of beauty, the potency of secrets, the longing for glory, the potential harshness of reality, and the power of compassion when truth is the foundation. Silky smooth cinematography captures every dramatic nuance the characters enact with precision and purpose, allowing us to feel each emotional sequence fully and empathetically as the story unfolds. Additionally, the perfectly suited background score, highlighting the main theme from Ravel’s “Bolero”, is a constant companion, and the timing of its utilization throughout always fits its given scene like a glove. Truly, it’s the whole package.
Given the narrative’s primary setting, it only makes sense to present an equally apropos lead actress, which is so deftly accomplished via Gilbert, a real-life Prima Ballerina with the Paris Opera Ballet. A graceful and poignant performance, Gilbert portrays Emma as a strong young woman with eyes on the ultimate prize in her profession who carries a secret that could undermine it all. With the already present pressure of wanting to successfully fulfil her dream while always having the inwardly-focused fear of being exposed, Emma’s choosing to share her worry with a trusted friend only to watch everything she’s worked for come so close to being stolen away, it’s actually a subtly portrayed but deeply affecting atmosphere created by it all, and Gilbert’s expressive face and body language along with the pensive vulnerability she infuses Emma with is all executed with wonderfully moving poise. Furthermore, Gilbert’s real-life ballet skills, for the small overall amount of time they’re utilized here, assuredly showcase the dancer’s skills and elegance of motion well.
Supporting turns are brought to bear here by Desplat as Emma’s friend Victoire, another ballerina who, for all the happiness and regard she shows for Emma, may still have her own agenda in play when the situation takes the initial turn it does. It speaks, more delicately than is often portrayed perhaps, to the nature of competition and longing for ultimate success that can surpass even comradeship, and Desplat enacts it well here. Deladonchamps plays Ballet Master Youri, a man of strict principal and work ethic for his troupe who finds out, rather directly, on his own about Emma’s conundrum, therefore having his own choice to make as whether to say something or not. One can see there’s a inner battle with his conscious being fought, even when we find it all gets outed anyway, and Deladonchamps does a solid job with it. Then there is a living film legend in Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Deneuve as the ballet’s Director Mille Jean, a woman who we can tell wants all to be top notch from her ballet’s troupe and overall production, but who also has a fantastically subdued yet highly effective key moment of self-reflection that subsequently plays into the film’s finale involving an stirringly emotive interaction with Emma. It’s pulled off with such ease, which one would expect from an actress of Deneuve’s caliber.
There is also a brief appearance from Pierre Glenat as the rehearsal studio’s pianist. In total, “Rise Of A Star” immerses us in a world where perfection is expected and reaching the pinnacle of success can be seemingly impossible, especially when other factors like portrayed here are involved. Yet, as mentioned above, it also depicts the wonder of living by the truth, having the willingness to tell it (even when somehow expecting the worst), and finding out how much better life is when we do.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!