For her latest film, director Valérie Müller went to the right people to help tell the story of a talented dancer who dreams of more, from her co-director Angelin Preljocaj (who is also Müller’s partner in real life) to her star, a dancing queen in her own right. The result is an energetic, honest look inside the fraught world of dance and the sort of unique people who populate it.
Shot in Russia, France, and Belgium, “Polina” follows the journey of gifted young dancer Polina — played by real-life Mariinsky Theatre Russian ballerina Anastasia Shevtsova — who has spent her childhood and youth training with a hard-driving classical ballet teacher. Polina’s long-held dreams (or perhaps her teacher’s?) seem ready to finally come to fruition when she’s accepted into Moscow’s highly competitive and prestigious Bolshoi Ballet. But the unexpected discovery of contemporary dance kindles a new passion in Polina, one that throws into question everything she’s worked for.
Polina throws caution — and also that Bolshoi berth — to the wind and moves to the south of France to work with lauded choreographer Liria Elsaj (played by no less than Juliette Binoche, who can blame her). But is her new passion enough to help her succeed?
The rest of the film’s cast includes Niels Schneider (Xavier Dolan’s “Heartbeats” and “I Killed My Mother”) and former Paris Opéra star dancer Jérémie Bélingard. Binoche is also no stranger to the world of dance, and the actress collaborated with contemporary dancer-choreographer Akram Khan in 2009 to create “In-I,” a dance-theatre work which premiered at London’s National Theatre before being staged at BAM, Paris’ Théatre de la Ville, Brussels’ La Monnaie and the Sydney Opera House.
Check out our exclusive trailer and poster for “Polina” below.
“Polina” opens in New York on Friday, August 25 and Los Angeles on Friday, September 1.