This was a project that was very slow to get made but its very easy to see how serious all the actors and dancers took their jobs because real pain and sweat are evident. Story is about the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and the year long process that it takes to cast and assemble the right people for an ambitious show called Blue Snake. The lead female dancer is Loretta "Ry" Ryan (Neve Campbell) who works very hard during the day practicing her performance then at night waiting on tables in a club. The Artistic Director of the ballet company is Alberto Antonelli (Malcolm McDowell) who is very demanding but listens to everyone's complaints about various things that have to be done for the show. One of the biggest things Antonelli has to worry about is the small budget that he cannot control.
Ry finds a boyfriend in a young man named Josh (James Franco) who works as a chef and they enjoy each others company although their schedules frequently conflict. An older dancer named Harriet (Barbara Robertson) is having a difficult time adjusting to new techniques and she is at odds with the director and choreographer.
This film is directed by the great Robert Altman and he was pursued for a long time to direct this but he kept resisting until he finally figured out why he was chosen. This film is about the process of creating something artistic with a small budget and this epitomizes Altman's career. Neve Campbell is a trained ballet dancer and not only is this her story but she helped produce it as well. Even though Altman directed this was made primarily because of Campbell's persistence and vision. She trained everyday for 4 months to get into shape like a dancer and her body is sleek and toned. Campbell performs her own dances and the films authenticity is because of her. Many of Altman's trademarks are prevalent here like the characters that we expect to see more of then don't. Actress Marilyn Dodds Frank plays Campbell's mother and her character drinks a lot and is always intruding in her daughters career and life. There is no big confrontation between the two because Altman never has that in his films. These are just the way these characters are and this is a big reason why his films are so realistic. The film does move about slowly and it's very difficult to really get emotionally involved with any of the characters but the hard work and sacrifices that they make cannot be denied. The honesty of the story and Campbell's realistic portrayal of a dancer make this film work.
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