Having finally received the overwhelmingly popular Mao’s Last Dancer from the Port Phillip Library in St. Kilda, I started to read it and having gone in with optimistic expectations (although this is a practice I tend to avoid with a writer/director unfamiliar to me in most situations) ended up rather underwhelmed despite its obvious merits. Even the movie of the same name by Bruce Beresford seemed to lack the fanfare it could have had even though both the autiobiography of Li Cunxin and film adaptation were compelling and heartwarming.
It just seemed to touch on things that seemed to be unnecessary waffle since it could have been more engaging than it already is if it had not drifted from new topic to another so fast but considering the sales figures of global success and print runs, all’s well that ends well.
Perhaps the story was not exotic enough to me. I used to take ballet until I hit puberty and grew a generous-sized bust (Have you ever seen a ballerina with an ample chest – I didn’t think so) .Meanwhile I also grew up in a country full of poverty, political conflict and corruption so even though my homeland had nothing to do with communism, the story of the boy plucked from obscurity to be a ballet star that then found an escape in the world of te West touched on common themes and should have resonated but while i enjoyed the recollections and fables, I didn’t even shed a tear since I was not emotionally moved as I’d be by any Thomas Hardy classic.
Maybe they broke the mould when I was born or maybe its the fact I’m far too familiar with government systems of leadership which claim to be democratic but are manipulative enough to control and confine the lives of citizens to achieve their own ends.