Mao’s Last Dancer

This is the story of Li Cunxin, a Chinese ballet dancer who chose to stay in the United States after a visit to the Houston Ballet company as an exchange student. To avoid defection, he married Elizabeth Mackey (an American dancer) hoping that China would recognize international marriage law, but the Chinese government revoked his citizenship anyway.

I don’t attend many ballets, but the dancing was enjoyable. The film had a definite 70’s look and feel to it. This is probably the most “watchable” entry I’ve seen at this year’s festival, but not a powerful piece of art. It has placed high on some festival goers lists. Expect to be entertained but not impressed.

The acting could have been better. The numerous ballet performances required casting people with substantial dance experience (e.g. Chi Cao, Amanda Schull, Madeleine Eastoe). Li Cunxin’s English improves as the years pass, which was a nice touch. I was a little surprised to see Kyle MacLachlan and Bruce Greenwood in this movie (maybe because I don’t associate them with biopics).

Venue: Seattle International Film Festival, 2010
Genre: Historic, Drama
Language: English