At its core White Nights is a political thriller about the dilemma of a famous Russian defector who, after a plane crash, finds himself trapped back in his mother country. However, pic shies away from the world of classical dance, personified by leading man Mikhail Baryshnikov, in favor of Gregory Hines’ ‘improvography’ and assorted modern stuff in blatant music video contexts.
Mix all this in with KGB intrigue, racial tensions, numerous emotional breakdowns and several suspense sequences, all played at the broadest levels of melodrama, and one has quite a mish-mash indeed.
Without so much as an interrogation by the KGB, Baryshnikov is moved to the dingy Siberian residence of Hines, a black American tap dancer who jumped to the other side during Vietnam, and his Russian wife Isabella Rossellini.
The trio is installed in Baryshnikov’s luxurious old apartment in Leningrad, and the dancer is expected to begin preparations for a triumphant homecoming at the Kirov. Inevitably, an escape attempt is the climax.
Hines plays a bitter, ornery man with a quick trigger. Rossellini, in her Hollywood film debut, has disappointingly little to do.
1985: Best Song (‘Say You, Say Me’).
Nomination: Best Song (‘Separate Lives’)