Film Review: Reléve (Reset)

RESET (Reléve) (France 2015) ***
Directed by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai

As interesting as RESET is a film about ballet, a non dance audience would likely take a while to get accustomed to the subject of this documentary.

RESET is a film on ballet - as seen through the eyes of the Paris National Opera’s new director Benjamin Millepeid.  Millespied is the choreographer of the Oscar winning opera BLACK SWAN that starred his wife, Natalie Portman.  Millepied was a famed choreographer and former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, both of which won him the prestigious Paris Opera position.

The film tracks the opening (premiere) night counting down the 39 days till day 1 of rehearsals.  Millepied prepares to unveil his first ballet on the 25th of September 2015.  From the very first rehearsal up until opening night, directors Demaizière and Teurlai immersed themselves in the world of the Paris Opera, right at the heart of its artistic creation - a musical score, penned by his friend Niko Muhly, inspired Millepied’s creative process.  The camera follows Millepied as he imagines and arranges his choreographies in front of the studio mirror. This act of creating finally unfolds within one of the most beautiful locations in the world: the Palais Garnier.  Except for the limitation of time to get everything in place, the film has little drama or suspense.  Everything appears to be working very well, except for Millepied who always appears to be un-trackable.  But what the film lacks in drama, it provides more in terms of splendour of ballet.  Even for ballet non-aficionados, RESET should still fascinate and  inspire.

Millepied chooses the actual shots of the Millepied’s premiere (called Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward) as the climax of the film.  A wise decision as the sequence shows the performance of the dancers performing at their best after weeks of hard training.   Millepied is shown to be extremely happy and proud of what he sees on stage.  Not so wise, however, is the directors’ decision to juxtapose the actual performances of a few of the dancers with their rehearsals.  This do not show much and serves as a distraction tot he continuity of their actual dance.

RESET also reveals Millepied’s character and how he has influenced the Paris Ballet.  He wanted changes to old school ballet, even casting for the first time a mixed race dancer as lead dancer.  RESET also shows that besides having to choreograph, Millepied had to overlook almost very aspect of the show from costumes, lighting, sets, hair and publicity.

The film ends with the titles informing the audience, during the closing credits, that Millepied resigned 4 months after the premiere of his show.  No reason is given, but one can only guess the reason from the film - likely that his quest for changes in ballet was not acceptable to his employers.

RESET has a limited run in Toronto from now through January 6 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, as well it opening in Vancouver at Vancity Theatre, starting Sunday January 1 and screens through Sunday January 15.  


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