Film about Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s attempts to revive an old institution is fascinating but flawed
RESET (Thierry Demaizière, Alban Teurlai). 107 minutes. Subtitled. Opens December 23 at the Hot Docs Cinema. See listing. Rating: NNN
Dance aficionados will watch Reset to discover why Benjamin Millepied’s time as director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet was so brief. Months after the premiere of his first show for them – the creation of which provides this doc with its structure – he resigned.
Certainly there are clues. He railed against the 300-year-old company’s outdated attitude towards ethnic diversity he bypassed working with the company’s lead dancers and looked for new talent in the corps de ballet and at times you can see him enmeshed in bureaucratic red tape when his harried assistant, in an ongoing gag, tracks him down.
There’s very little about Millepied’s personal life – blink and you’ll miss a shot of his famous wife, Natalie Portman, whom he choreographed in Black Swan. But the glimpses of the choreographer in his element – working with dancers, illustrating moves, collaborating with composer Nico Muhly and conductor Maxime Pascal – are absorbing.
Yet the film itself lacks dramatic tension. Directors Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai don’t know how to shape scenes, and at least 10 minutes could have been edited. For a more telling look at the workings of the institution, seek out Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse.