Cédric Klapisch didn’t want to make another Black Swan. The French director and screenwriter has long wanted to create a fictional dance movie. But against a backdrop of examples that highlight — or lowlight — pain and suffering, his would do something different. It would focus instead on the passion and joy and life that dance offers, albeit not without obstacles — a deliberate choice with roots in his Jewish family’s Holocaust history and his longstanding love for movement.

En Corps, one of the highestgrossing French movies of 2022, is being released in America with the title Rise — an apt hint at the emotional arc that sets this movie apart from the damaged heroines and darker depictions of dance we’ve seen not only in Darren Aronofsky’s iconic 2010 psychological thriller, but also in TV series like Flesh and Bone (2015) and Tiny Pretty Things (2020). The feature-length movie — a partnership between Klapisch and London-based Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter who appears as himself — centers real dancers really dancing. There are no body doubles and no illusions.

“People ask me about my work, and I don’t really care about how it looks and how it sounds and all this. It’s really about people,” Shechter told me on a joint Zoom call with Klapisch. It’s “about the human experience and how it feels inside.” He saw something similarly human in Klapisch’s work way back when he watched the director’s 2002 film The Spanish Apartment and he says it made for a harmonious collaboration in Rise. “We really connect in the way that the story is told and where the human emotions are the center of it.”......

It’s not surprising, then, that Klapisch was driven to create a movie so far afield from Black Swan. Because for him, “Dance is really about life. It’s a metaphor of life, and it’s a metaphor of people who want to enjoy life.”

And if it feels a little trite and naive for me to write about the inspiring optimism of Rise as I have in an era that tends to mock earnestness, I’ll just remember that, as Shechter put it, words fail us sometimes. It’s a little more complicated than that, if you’d just watch, listen, and let this dancing hit you right in the gut.

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