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Following three Norwegian teens who, being boys, constitute a small minority of their high-school dance program, Kenneth Elvebakk‘s Ballet Boys wonders which, if any of them, has the staying power to make a career of their current passion. Likable but conventional and not especially dramatic, the doc will likely entertain in Scandinavia and at fests but have little commercial life beyond — though it would be useful viewing for curious boys anywhere who ask themselves whether they can don tights in high school and feel OK about it.
Social questions, which some will find the doc’s most promising aspect, are dispensed with fairly early: Though worries about being presumed gay are never raised (are straight teens in Norway immune to this fear?), we do watch as the boys’ uneasy-looking hands hold the lower torsos and upper thighs of girls one presumes they might like to date. As Syvert, one of the boys, notes, being onstage with a girl you like is a mixed blessing: If you do something wrong, “she’ll remember it forever.”
Elvebakk follows Syvert and his best friends, Lukas and Torgeir, through a variety of competitions and auditions, but doesn’t do much to make them seem important: We’ve rarely heard about them before the camera shows up there, and we have no idea how important one is in relation to the others. The exceptions are two school-admission auditions toward the end (one of them for the Royal Ballet School in London).
Judging from what’s here, the three teens lead pretty uneventful lives. One quits dance for a while, realizing he needs to focus on schoolwork, only to change his mind after a while. From the start it’s clear that only Lukas has the kind of this-or-nothing certainty that is a prerequisite to a life in the arts, so it’s unsurprising that Elvebakk pays more attention to him than to his mates. He also transforms the most dramatically over the years, growing in front of Elvebakk’s camera from a mildly gangly kid to a handsome young man who might plausibly have a ballet career in his future.
Production company: Indie Film
Director: Kenneth Elvebakk
Producer: Carsten Aanonsen
Director of photography: Torstein Nodland
Editor: Christoffer Heie
Music: Henrik Skram
No MPAA rating, 74 minutes
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