PG; 1:57 running time
A dramatic true story has been made into a diffident biopic in "Mao's Last Dancer," based on the autobiography by Chinese ballet star Li Cunxin. At 11, Cunxin left his family and his Shandong Province village, at the orders of Maoist officials, and underwent a grim training regimen in Beijing. There he was spotted by visiting choreographer Ben Stevenson ( Bruce Greenwood) and an arrangement was made: Li joined the Houston Ballet, where Stevenson ruled the roost, as part of a groundbreaking cultural-exchange program. This led to a defection, a marriage to a fellow dancer, and then, in a series of hurry-up epilogues, a new relationship and yet another new life. Surely, that's a remarkable series of lives, and just as surely director Bruce Beresford's treatment of the script (by Jan Sardi, who fared much better with "Shine") gets the job done with little distinction.
Read the full "Mao's Last Dancer" review.
— Michael Phillips