I've been on the lookout for ballet movies lately, but aside from The Red Shoes and Black Swan I don't really know of many. I almost considered watching Phantom of the Opera in hopes that the ballet chorus would make an appearance (the only trouble is... I don't really like Phantom of the Opera...). So, when a girlfriend recently told me I had to watch The Turning Point I made a mental note and stored it for a rainy day. While the weather is only intermittently rainy right now, it is preeeeeeeetty boring while I'm away from civilization (did I mention Daddy lives in the middle of effing nowhere?) and my dad sleeps for at least 18 hours a day. I've been stretching, I guess that is something. I did some really lousy pirouettes in the kitchen this afternoon. But, let's face it, I'm bored. So last night I brought out The Turning Point and had myself a sad little watching-movies-in-bed moment.
If you are in to ballet then it is definitely worth the time to check it out. There is a LOT of dancing in it (much of it done by real honest-to-god dancers) which really redeems it from some otherwise annoying traits. The plot is pretty much a string of ballet movie clichés (I'm not sure why the idea that dancers have to choose between ballet and family is so often waved around. Lots of dancers have kids. Maybe more now than in the past, but let's face it until QUITE recently women were pretty much expected to give up their career so they could raise a family no matter what their job was), and the acting felt oddly flat to me, the characters that are supposed to be sexin' each other up have no chemistry whatsoever. BUT. Dancing, right? You get Baryshnikov showing off (while I can't say much for the likability of his character I have to admit the man had amazing balance) and lots of those weirdly skinny Balanchine-style ballerinas of the era (thankfully scarce these days) that at least make me feel better about my total lack of bosoms. None of the characters were at all sympathetic to me, the construction of the film was kind of random and clunky, and the title sequence dance is a perfect example of what ballet should NOT look like (boring!) but I certainly enjoyed the frolicking around and the honest poverty. Homosexuality and the cultural expectations of male dancers is also a plot device here, and honestly I think is was handled fairly openly for a movie made in the 70s. Maybe not in the sort of way we would do it now, but hey. Props for being frank about it in 1977.