Perfunctory Movement: Our Review of ‘Mr. Gaga’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 31, 2017
Perfunctory Movement: Our Review of ‘Mr. Gaga’

The dance documentary is such an enigmatic beast and it is rarely an easy one to tame.  With Mr. Gaga we get an interesting little portrait at this icon of dance and the limits that he pushes himself to attend his ideal vision of his art, but not enough of the human costs that come with being a creative genius

It’s the story of the internationally acclaimed choreographer Ohad Naharin, who created the daring form of dance and “movement language” known as Gaga. When he was 22, he was invited to perform with the prestigious Martha Graham dance company, and attended Juilliard and the School of American Ballet simultaneously, however Ohad would not be happy until he could do exactly what he wanted. Moving back to Israel, Naharin became the Artistic Director of the Batsheva Dance Company, developing Gaga within his own ensemble. Even after achieving worldwide acclaim, Naharin is never contented and continues to fight every day, sometimes with his own dancers, once even with the president of Israel, to make his creative visions come to life.

While there is no denying that Ohad Naharin makes for a great subject that carries the bulk of Mr. Gaga we also get a little short changed with him ultimately narrating the story of his own life which just feels a little too self-serving.  The film just feels a little too anecdotal at times as talking heads and his own narration get sprinkled through the narrative and cut between dance sequences, in many ways the subject kind of took over his own film.

Writer/Director Tomer Heymann has the structure down well enough to be certain as we get his life story, but the entire experience ultimately lacks a little bit of vibrancy that we have seen in other docs like Pina.  Naharin is highlighted as a genuine genius who has paid some pretty step costs for his art over the years both personal and occasionally at professional risk as well but we never really feel any kind of emotional stakes.

All in all the movie feels like it just too in awe of Naharin and while he makes for a compelling subject the lack of anything more than perfunctory storytelling left Mr. Gaga more than a little flat.  It’s beautiful to watch and is a fine way to spend some time if you are a fan of dance, but it never gets anywhere close to letting us as audience feel the power behind this man’s art and his convictions to make it all absolutely perfect.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.