Mao’s Last Dancer

BEFORE YOU CAN FLY YOU HAVE TO BE FREE. 

In the early 1980s, Li Cunxin (Chi Cao) arrives in Houston as a Chinese exchange student at the local ballet under the tutelage of Ben Stevenson (Bruce Greenwood); a love affair makes him want to stay in the U.S. This reality-based story offers insight into how Li Cunxin was mercilessly drilled in China as a ballet student, but also how difficult it was for him to come to terms with his new life after severing ties with his country. Competently made but lacking a certain fire, although the filmmakers work hard to tug at our hearts. Cao, himself a dancer, is convincing; Greenwood’s accent less so.

2009-Australia. 117 min. Color. Directed by Bruce Beresford. Book: Li Cunxin. Cast: Bruce Greenwood (Ben Stevenson), Kyle MacLachlan (Charles Foster), Joan Chen (Niang), Chi Cao (Li Cunxin), Amanda Schull, Wang Shuang Bao.

 

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