Monday, January 19, 2009

Movies: Dance of the Enchantress

Though I’m not certain what I expected, Dance of the Enchantress did not meet my expectations. Not a full-length recording of a single performance, nor an instructive documentary, the film serves more as a meandering touchstone, shifting from shot to shot of varying Mohiniyattam rehearsals and performances, cut with the occasional shot of rain or still pond, and a dancer’s wistful eyes, intimating, but never offering, narration. The film’s subtitles provide translation of the music’s lyrics, which narrate a rudimentary bur surprisingly ardent love story, but one without the depth or continuity to keep the audience engaged. The dancers are not given time on screen to differentiate themselves from each other so that, in their matching consumes and gestures, they become disappointingly interchangeable. And so, our focus shifts from and back to the film, our eyes constantly following the women’s measured movements, our imaginations wandering. We learn little, feel less, and have been lulled into a kind of pleasant stupor by the time it’s over.

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