In early 1960s Paris, the Cold War may be raging, but Soviet authorities have decided to send their finest dance troupe to the City of Light to demonstrate the cultural refinement behind the Iron Curtain. Though the Kirov Ballet is set to wow audiences, one man causes a sensation that reverberates far beyond the stage: the electrifying young dancer Rudolf Nureyev (Ukrainian dancer Oleg Ivenko, in an astonishing screen debut). Much to the annoyance of his KGB minders, Rudolf makes daily pilgrimages to the Louvre and frequents the city’s jazz bars with a Chilean heiress (Adèle Exarchopoulos), which leads to a pivotal awakening.
As David Hare’s script zig zags across time, we discover Nureyev’s origins: his birth on a Trans-Siberian train; his youth and early schooling, where his uncompromising attitude marked him as troublemaker, and the initial stirrings of his sexuality. Richly evoking the times on atmospheric 16mm, director Ralph Fiennes brings texture and emotional shading to this portrait of aninscrutable man whose talent and temperament saw him rock the worlds of ballet and international relations.
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