Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
This gorgeously mounted Belle Epoque drama presents a fictionalised account of the rise and fall of Loïe Fuller, the American-born pioneer of modern dance (and theatrical lighting design) whose ‘serpentine dance’ took Paris and then the world by storm. French singer-songwriter Soko plays the dancer, opposite Gaspard Ulliel, with Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp, as her friend and rival Isadora Duncan.
“Combining furious movement, billowing costume, and theatrical lighting, it’s not hard to imagine how the shows would have astounded audiences more than a century ago. The film doesn’t disappoint with its rendition of Fuller’s iconic pieces, either. Both on stage – where an incredibly agile human form whirls and twirls until it disappears into a storm of shifting shapes – and out in nature – as a group of female dancers becomes one with the misty forest under her guidance – first-time director Stéphanie Di Giusto turns these sequences into feats of electrifying elegance aided by artful production design, textured costuming, and fluent cinematography…
Soko has both the willful masculinity and a feminine vulnerability down. Playing Louis, Ulliel is his usual charismatic self, exuding an effortless, pansexual allure that enriches a rather underwritten character infinitely. And though she only appears later in the film, Depp positively dazzles as Isadora. With her elfin litheness and an almost contemptuous self-assuredness, she owns the screen during every appearance.” — Zhuo-Ning Su, The Film Stage