CUBAN dancer Carlos Acosta became a mainstay of Britain’s Royal Ballet, breaking all sorts of barriers and stereotypes along the way as a dark-skinned South American emigre.
Acosta, played by Edilson Manuel Olbera Nunez in his youth, never wanted to be a ballet dancer in his football-obsessed country where such a pursuit was considered decidedly unmasculine.
Ironically, despite his obsessive, boorish, abusive, macho traits, it was Acosta’s father, Pedro (Santiago Alfonso), who drove him relentlessly to pursue his destiny.
The biopic is unflinching in dealing with the limitations faced by those of humble origins in Communist Cuba.
There are terrible sacrifices and difficult choices made by his fragmented family, with the plight of his mentally ill sister particularly affecting.
Acosta plays himself for large portions of the film’s 111 minutes, which sometimes distracts from immersing fully in the notion of a re-created life.
We tend to associate artifice with actors, rather than the real thing.
But his dance within a dance sequences, creating a new work in Cuba, are compelling and benefit from his grandeur and passion on stage.
It’s a big life, pitched against enormous odds at almost every turn and leap.
Directed by: Iciar Bollaín
Starring: Carlos Acosta, Edilson Manuel Olbera Nunez, Santiago Alfonso
Reviewed by: Martin Turner
In cinemas now