(director: Elvira Lind; screenwriter: Maja Jul Larsen; cinematographer: Elvira Lind; editor: Adam Nielsen; music: Uno Helmersson; cast: Bobbi Jene Smith, Or Schraiber, Ohad Naharin, Denise Smith, Yaniv Nagar, David Harvey, Barbara Frum, Nirit Schraiber, Amir Schraiber, Matan Daskal, Adam Whitney Nichols, Laura Dern; Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Julie Leerskov, Sara Stockman; Oscilloscope; 2017-Sweden-Denmark in Swedish with English subtitles)
“Remains fuzzy about its aims.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The documentary was lauded at the Tribeca Festival. It’s written by Maja Jul Larsen and directed over a two-year period by Swedish filmmaker Elvira Lind (“Songs For Alexis”).
The offbeat biopic is about the dilemmas facing the 30-year-old American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith as she leaves the world-famous Batsheva Dance Company that’s based in Tel Aviv and also leaves behind her 20-year-old Israeli dancer boyfriend she loves to return to America.
Bobbi is from Iowa and was at the Julliard school when as a student was recruited by the middle-aged choreographer who ran the company, Ohad Naharin, and left school to work in Israel and be his lover. The slice of life characterization of the last few years of Bobbi Jene’s life might be traumatic but her inner pain about what confuses her doesn’t give us much insight into what she wants us to take away from her decision-making, as the film remains fuzzy about its aims.
The story dwells on Bobbi Jene’s love life and tries to make her conversations with the affable younger boyfriend, Or Schraiber seem as if we are in a Shakespeare play. Since we’re not, what I got out of it was Bobbi Jene is a provocative classic contemporary dancer who had no plans for the future, worries she might never have kids and can’t get her parents to understand her life. But she has achieved enough recognition in the field that she should have a good career in New York, whether in dancing, teaching or being a choreographer. Since the boyfriend refuses to leave Israel and she doesn’t want to remain away from home any longer, I guess they will both have to deal with it.
I thought the film got caught up in the personal love story too much and the part about dancing got short-changed. Though there was one memorable sequence of Bobbi Jene dancing nude at Jerusalem’s Israeli Museum. This solo dance incorporates her company’s philosophical style of dance known as “gaga.” We’re told that in her art “I want to get to that place where I have no strength to hide anything.” Maybe she achieves that.
REVIEWED ON 12/17/2017 GRADE: B-