Monday, February 28, 2011

Review-- Margot

Phew! Just in time! This review is of the movie, Margot. It is a made-for-television British movie and based off the real-life events of famous ballerina, Margot Fonteyn. This is definitely one of the lesser known movies featuring ballet, and I almost passed it up. So let's see how they did!

Story is about an older ballerina who is married to a revolutionary and Panamanian ambassador named Tito. Margot's marriage and career are strained as she struggles to balance each in her life. Meanwhile, a new Russian dancer named Rudi is sent to her apartment to stay. Problems with the Russian government make it is hard for the British company to get Russian dancers, so finding him means they have to make sure he has a place to stay. 
Since Margot is the prima ballerina and the Russian dancer is a favorite with the audience, they are quickly paired together for ballets. Margot starts to fall for him just a bit... but he seems to have as much interest in girls as guys. She isn't sure if she should let herself love him or not until after a single performance. During curtain calls, he turns to her and realizes that he is willing to start a more serious relationship with her.

Meanwhile, her husband sells her jewels without telling her to pay for guns for the revolution. He flirts with other women at a party and openly insults her and embarasses her in front of their guests; her marriage is now even more stressed. Her dominating mother tries to make decisions for her, and feeling trapped, she turns to her crush for comfort. He dumps his boyfriend, and Margot has an affair with him. Their love inspires their dancing, and the audience loves them more than ever.

But is this really what Margot wants? How should she balance her work (put under pressure by her failing body and aging) and her home life (strained by the revolution and infidelity)?
I'm a little lost on how to describe this movie without making it sound boring. Yes, the plot is slightly cliché. A woman falls for a younger man.... affairs.... we've heard it before. Yet I really enjoyed it. Her aging is lightly touched upon without having it slammed into our faces. Her feet becoming more and more damaged is shown but not spoken.

It's very nicely done, but the core elements might be a dead ringer for many other movies out there. Still, not bad at all. I really can't think of much else to comment on.

The actress who played Margot did an excellent job. She conveyed sorrow convincingly, and danced the ballet portions nicely. Clever camera tricks were used for parts she couldn't perform, but the ones she did act in were really nice. I swear she even does a pirouette at one point. Not bad! I was most certainly impressed. I don't know who this actress is, but this movie reminds me that more people can act than just A-list actors and actresses.

I really wish that Rudi had a bit more background related to us. All we know is that 1) he's a good dancer, 2) he's Russian, and 3) he's bisexual. That's just not enough for me. I think he even dances his parts! And if he doesn't, then they did a wonderful job finding the perfect stunt double for him. Granted, he doesn't dance often, but when he does, it's not too shabby! I also really liked the actor who played his part. For all I know, he's really Russian.

I wish the mother character was drawn out a bit more. At the very end, Margot spits out all her grudges against her mother, but we really don't see much tension between them. Sometimes they disagree, but Margot always politely sweeps the mother's comments aside. This idea of an overbearing mother is really interesting, but it doesn't really look into it as much as I would like. 

The man who played Tito played a good guy-you-like-to-hate (no picture of him because I forgot). His blatant lack of respect for his wife is just infuriating. Granted, Margot also cheated at one point, so who am I to pass judgment? Still, a really nice job from all the actors and actresses in this movie. They all did phenomenally.

I LOVE the sets and costumes! Everything had to be in this time period, so everything had to be just right. I loved the ballet studio, stage, and costumes. They were all absolutely wonderful. The sets took time to fill in the extra details like tutus hanging up on hangers and the rosin for dance shoes.

The movie used mostly music from famous ballets. These mostly being Tchaikovsky's. Not much to say since they are classical pieces, after all.

The camera was really great. They got some really nice shots in, like the ballet studio picture above, that really gave you a sense of space and dynamics. Other times, there were awkward zooms. Though, to be honest, they actually may have been done on purpose. These awkward zooms were during interviews, which may have been the effect they wanted for this type of setting.
The character is about to go on stage. The camera cleverly edits out the actress for her body double as she passes past the curtains and makes her entrance.
Also, the editing inbetween body doubles is BRILLIANT. I love it! My most favorite and ingenious example is near the very beginning during Swan Lake. The actress prepares to go on. She passes by the side curtain and the body double takes her place as the camera pans over with the character onto the stage. The seamless edit makes it a really nice transition, and I appreciated the thought that went into it.

Ballet Presence:
The actress and her body double did a great job dancing, but even the actress had to learn how to move for the ballet portions. She even learned to spot and can do a single pirouette. I'll be shocked if someone told me she learned this much for the role because I was really impressed with how well she did for what she was given. By making the actress at least appear to dance in one shot, it gave us the illusion she really could dance. Clever editing doesn't always pull through with deceiving the audience. At least, not this audience.
 I did like how the ballet bits they performed matched up with what stage their relationship was at. Like Giselle picking the petals off the flower was matched with Margot and Rudi first dancing together, and also Odile/Odette being two sides of the same coin when Margot is leading a sort of "double life." Though there were times this didn't work so well, it was nicely done overall.
The dancers were mostly shot from behind so you couldn't see the stunt doubles. When there was a move that the actors could perform, that's when they shot from the front. Though this got old after awhile, it was still nice to see them perform. They performed quite a few pieces from ballets. There was Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadere, and at least two others that I can't remember the names of right off the top of my head.
The man who played Rudi, I think, danced part of La Bayadere. I really liked him, too. I thought they both did wonderful jobs.

Overall Enjoyment:
For a made for television movie, this is GREAT. It's well shot, it's a period piece to boot, and they were really clever about hiding their smaller budget. They blackened the theatre and shot the dancers from behind mostly to hide the lack of extras. Very clever, if you ask me. Still, I wish they shot the dancers from the front more often, though it's quite understandable.

The actress playing Margot was fantastic, and so were all the other players. This is definitely what I consider a hidden gem. Maybe it's not for you, but for a ballet movie, I found it pretty amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...