<em>Mao's Last Dancer</em>

Mao's Last Dancer

Mao’s Last Dancer

Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, and Joan Chen star in a film written by Jan Sardi, based on the autobiography of Cuxin Li, and direced by Bruce Beresford.

Somewhere in Shandong province, as Red Chinese officials look on, a young child is discovered to have unique capabilities. Taken from his loving family, his discoverers send him to a place of strenuous discipline and education, where he gradually rises to international prominence—bringing joy and beauty to millions after a time of soul-searching and self betrayals. If this seems like a déjà vu-ish narrative, brace yourself for the happy news: this time it’s ballet instead of boring old Buddhism.

Mao’s Last Dancer, a new film by the steeply irregular Bruce Beresford (he’s made brilliance like Breaker Morant and Dark Robe, and dreck like Driving Miss Daisy), is mostly a set up for massive tearjerker effect. Based on the true story of Li Cunxin, who was trained in Beijing during the period between Communist China and the arbitrary mix of West and old guard that still marks the mainland today, the film cross-cuts between Cunxin’s dewy-eyed arrival at the Houston Ballet and his rigorous dance and Little Red Book training back home. The pacing is deceptive. Sometimes boringly glacial, at other times, Berseford shows a poet’s gift for economy and feeling.

But the true payoff — besides a number of lyrical dance scenes from Swan Lake and Rites of Spring — comes in the final moments, when Cunxin’s world comes together. If you can resist the slobbery joys of Beresford’s film then, you probably should have gone to see The Expendables a second time.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Jon Peterson Departs Habitat for Humanity

Takes a post with Covenant Trust Company of Chicago.

Montecito Pushes Back on Streamlined Rebuild Process

Not so fast with fast-track rebuilding, leaders tell the county

St. George Files Suit Against Gelb for Unpaid Debt

Pair of Isla Vista landlords in legal tussle over property sales costs.

Thousands of Plaintiffs Added to Refugio Oil Spill Case

Litigation follows footsteps of 1969 Union Oil spill attorneys.

Push Comes to Shove Between Law Enforcement and Mental Health

County supervisors confront too many needs with not enough money.