Yuli (2018)

Director: Icíar Bollaín
Writer: Paul Laverty
Based on: Carlos Acosta‘s autobiography No Way Home
Cast: Carlos Acosta, Santiago Alfonso, Keyvin Martínez, Edlison Manuel Olbera Núñez, Laura De la Uz, Yerlín Pérez
Seen on: 22.2.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Carlos (Edlison Manuel Olbera Núñez) is a wild child who enjoys running through the streets of Havana and being free. But his father (Santiago Alfonso) is convinced that Carlos has a talent for dance – and this talent shouldn’t go to waste. Despite Carlos’ constant escape attempts, he finds his way as a dancer – an internationally successful dancer at that.

Yuli is a really nice film with gorgeous dance scenes. It may have run a tad too long, but it is definitely worth seeing – especially if you like dancing.

The film poster showing a close-up of young Carlos (Edlison Manuel Olbera Núñez). In the place of his cheek is adult Carlos (Carlos Acosta) in a dance pose on the streets of Havana.

Yuli gets many things very right – above all the dance scenes that are beautifully choreographed, danced and shot and had very nice music. I really could not be happier with them. That Acosta partly plays himself was also cleverly used throughout the film.

I also liked that race and racism were big topics here – how else could it be when you got a Black ballet dancer who was a trailblazer in many ways, and who had to fight against a very white establishment to get to where he got to. I thought that the film captures that very well.

Adult Carlos (Carlos Acosta) dancing in a theater.

I thought that the father-son relationship was a little too much in focus, at least for my taste – as if Carlos didn’t have any other family who may have been influential for his life as well. And, as I said, the film did have a couple of lenghts.

But overall, I very much enjoyed it. I guess I’m easily satisfied when you give me such fantastic dance scenes – but the film definitely has more to offer.

Young Carlos (Edlison Manuel Olbera Núñez) looking at himself in the mirror in the ballet studio.

Summarizing: very nice.

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