The Turning Point (1976)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Reunion Films  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Craig Butler

Greatly acclaimed upon its initial release (and scoring an amazing eleven Academy Award nominations), time has dulled much of the appeal of The Turning Point. The melodramatic aspects of the plot, slightly commented upon but generally dismissed in 1977, are the main culprits, but much of writer Arthur Laurents' dialogue is also to blame. It's a bit too obvious in the big scenes, and it sometimes seems to be trying too hard to present its feminist credentials. That said, the script does allow two talented actresses to strut their considerable stuff, and Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine grab the opportunity and run with it, especially in the made-to-order catfight that climaxes the film. Equally as important as the stars' performance are the ballet sequences, which are among the best ever captured on film. Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne are acceptable in their dialogue scenes, but they are incandescent and amazing when dancing, especially as captured by Robert Surtees' delicate and perceptive cinematography. Sensitively directed and sporting a lovely design, Turning Point has enough plusses to make up for its soap opera underpinnings.