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film review

Most of Loie Fuller’s artistic contributions are downplayed in La Danseuse (The Dancer).The Globe and Mail

American Loie Fuller created the swirling spectacle of the Serpentine Dance and became a leading force in the avant-garde art movement of the late 1800s. Her innovations in lighting, choreography and costume design still influence modern dance today. But most of Fuller's artistic contributions are downplayed in La Danseuse (The Dancer), a fictionalized biopic by first-time writer-director Stéphanie Di Giusto who uses much creative licence in retelling Fuller's life. Starring French pop star Soko as Fuller, it begins by documenting her early years schlepping manure in Midwest America's Rockies (not true), her lesbian yearnings for U.S. expressionist dancer Isadora Duncan, played by a vapid Lily-Rose Depp (the two knew each other in Paris but weren't on the friendliest terms) and her reliance on an ether-sniffing count (imaginary) who lends Fuller his bucolic French estate to run a dance school. Di Giusto ticks off all those fantasy boxes in a script that stretches these fictional relationships in implausible ways. Only in the dance sequences do we catch a glimpse of Fuller's genius. Bathed in flowing white silk, twirling to her own choreography, Fuller finally takes centre stage in a film cluttered with too much other stuff.