MiniReview: "The White Crow" (film)

One of the relatively few racy scenes in the film, with Oleg Ivenko (in bed) as Nureyev and Louis Hofmann as his friend Teja.


What is it?

A 2018 UK/France/Croatia/Serbia co-production directed by Ralph Fiennes.


Crows aren’t white.

Not normally, no. Apparently, to be a “white crow” in Russian is to be someone who doesn’t fit in.


Very queer. And the white crow in question is …

Rudolf Nureyev.


Lovely. So we have a beautiful man at the centre of the story. I like this.

Not just a beautiful man, but a whole bunch of them, gorgeous ballet dancers. And then add to that spectacular dancing, stirring music, Paris, Leningrad, some visual art … This is a feast for anyone who loves beautiful things.


So, Nureyev was queer (gay or bisexual). How much does that play a role in the film?

It’s not really at the centre of the film, which shows Nureyev’s life up until his defection to the West in 1961 at the age of 23. Nureyev, as portrayed in this film, is largely obsessed with dance, and more generally with art, and doesn’t come across first and foremost as a highly sexual person. But we clearly see his attraction to men. Beyond the question of sex, though, Nureyev is a thoroughly queer guy—a white crow—who never fits in, and who explains to his Parisian friend that he seeks to feminize the male ballet dancer. So his queerness/homosexuality/bisexuality isn’t stressed, but it’s omnipresent.


So you clearly liked this.

I ate it up. Honestly, what’s a queer soul not to like in this film? Stunningly gorgeous actors, beautiful settings, music, dance, burlesque, high drama. I loved it. And on top of all that, the script (by British playwright David Hare) is intelligent and perceptive about the creative life.



One star. This isn’t a “great” film, but it’s smart, sexy, stirring entertainment.

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