The Red Shoes ★★★★½

Not totally satisfied with my review of this (spoilers) from 2007 but I also am not sure this is a movie whose better attributes are something that words can really quite reach. Not my words, anyway. Expecting the comedown in the second half I resented it less than when I wrote that piece, and it's really not that the hackneyed story at the back end is outright embarrassing, just that it comes after one of the most beautiful, impossible-to-upstage twenty minutes of cinema ever devised, and it manages simultaneously to upend one of the main virtues of the opening act: the degree to which everyone involved subsumes him or herself to the act of creation, with so much held back and unsaid. As for the ending, it works as both feminist critique and as harshly cynical arts-versus-humanity parable, primarily because we don't get the sense that Powell and Pressburger especially want Vicky to wholly give herself over to anyone except herself.

But all these motivations and personalities and acts of defiance, death and being pushed or jumping, whatever else, it just seems so trite after this film took you -- almost incidentally -- to the absolute edge of the world inside its protagonist's head. That's the only place you want to spend time for the remaining hour.