Movie Review: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (2016) #atozchallenge

This is my entry for “R” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous ”R” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Rape of Europa.

TitleRestless Creature: Wendy Whelan
Release Date: October 9, 2016
Director: Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger
Production Company: Abramorama

I don’t know much about ballet but it’s something I’m interested in learning more about. The subject of this documentary, Wendy Whelan, is considered one of the top dancers of generation during her 30 years with the New York City Ballet.  This film captures the end of those 30 years.

Whelan had remarkable durability, avoiding the injuries that plague many dancers until her mid-40s.  At the start of this film, she’s getting surgery on her hip injury and then beginning her recovery.  Her anxiety about being away from the stage is palpable, especially as rumors spread that she’s already retired.  Her physical therapist actually has to pull her out of a ballet class to keep her from aggravating her injury.  Whelan’s commitment to physical therapy and dance rehearsal show that she is definitely a “restless creature.”

But she is also a genuinely kind person, and her colleagues and friends think highly of her.  Part way through this film, Whelan comes to a decision.  First, she is going to perform in her final season with the New York City Ballet.  Second, she is going to transition into contemporary dance, with a tour called “Restless Creature” featuring four different dance performances choreographed by four differen male choreographers.  For her final performance at the New York City Ballet, she does a one-time performance of a number choreographed just for her.  The scenes of the performance are hair raising in their beauty.  Wendy Whelan gets to go out on her own terms and its perfect.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

I’m in my mid-40s and I found this movie strangely relatable.  I mean, even when I was young I physically couldn’t do the things Whelan does, and in my own chosen field I should be able to continue into old age.  Still, there comes a realization in one’s 40s that you can’t physically do the thing you used to do, and it comes time to make decisions about how you want to go forward in your life.

I also found it interesting the distinction that Whelan makes between ballet and contemporary dance.  I mean to my novice eyes they look very similar, and a dancer like Whelan makes it look effortless despite energy exerted.  I’m glad that Whelan finds that contemporary dance is way for her to continue in a way that is more friendly to her injury.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

The documentary Ballerina shows a different side of the ballet world, focusing on the young dancers in Russia’s highly competitive Kirov Ballet.

Source: Netflix

Rating: ****

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
O: Obit.
P: Pelotero
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (2016) #atozchallenge

  1. I have so much respect for anyone who shows that kind of dedication. And I can kind of relate to that fear of losing the art that you love. Obviously I expect to have many years of writing ahead of me, but I know Alzheimers runs in my family and it terrifies me to think that a day may come when my mind can no longer perform the way I need it to perform.

    Liked by 1 person

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