Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"Alexey Lyubimov's performance is rooted in the physical, the palpable."

Bodies stretching for the heavens, the particular kind of taut to dancers. Those battered toes, that yearning for flight. From beneath the waters we watch. "Hop off" he's told, "let's try again", another step, another step, another stumble. In the studio, prowling, demanding, "don't", "again", "later". The pills, the bottle, the sun hidden from view. These are not the addictions for our hero, not the root.

Weight of expecation. "No one else can do". "You're okay, aren't you?" isn't a question. In the percussion of heartbeat and impacts is a countdown to conflict. Flashback in black and white, the bar, the mirror, the dancer and himself.

Lyubov Knyazeva keeps the camera as much in motion as our protagonist, close to faces and feet, the cool blue and the cold ice. Alexey Lyubimov's performance is rooted in the physical, the palpable. Sunlight through the windows, sunlight through the trees. There are parallels with The Boy Who Walked Barefoot, the struggle to fill shoes, the intrusion of the magical to the real. A moment with a cup recalls not so much Jurassic Park as its reflection in Tyrannosaur.

The credits indicate the use of music by Max Richter, though the pieces are not named. The struggle of strings is firmly enough within multiple classical traditions that even if unfamiliar there is enough to follow. Nikolay Zhuravlev and Yuriy Zolotukhin's sound work borrows perhaps a bit too much from that diegetic percussive tendency of a certain class of film trailer, but its overuse elsewhere is not a slight to its utility. For a short film to attempt as much is credit to the bravery of those involved, for it to succeed as well a credit to their talent. Drones have made aerial shots if not trivial then at least routine, but underwater has not become much easier with time. That sense of weightlessness and pressure is a key to the film, even to the empty shot at the end, the floating figure in the foreground.

Weightlessness has a solidity to it, a quality of construction that supports the heft of its emotional core. The demands of art upon the artist are various, and in exploring those impacts the film makes one of its own.

Reviewed on: 11 Oct 2021
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A young ballet dancer tries to cope with trauma and faces a creative crisis.

Director: Lyubov Knyazeva

Year: 2021

Runtime: 20 minutes

Country: Russia


Ca' Foscari 2021

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