Overwrought but never overdone, “Ballroom Dancer” follows onetime World Latin Dance champion Slavik Kryklyvyy as he tries to recapture his former glory, waging a battle against memory, anxiety, injury and envy along the way. Via the intimate portraiture of Danish helmers Andreas Koefoed and Christian Bonke, Kryklyvyy proves himself an artist, athlete, consummate dancer and hopeless romantic as he suffers heartbreak and disappointment trying to re-create what he had with his ex, reigning champ Joanna Leunis, with his new lover, Anna Melnikova. Mix of superb dance and high drama should spell a respectable specialty-release showing.
Kryklyvyy, a Ukrainian gypsy of volatile temperament, is a superb physical specimen, and his dancing is sublime. But the pic’s point is that after a certain level, it’s not about body and motion, but mind. Melnikova, also a gifted dancer, does all she can to contend with her partner’s new moves and erratic moods, but throughout the film the sense of impending doom carries the narrative like a pair of sturdy shoulders. Visually it’s terrific, too, as lensers Koefoed and Bonke capture every spin, gesture and sidelong glance.