Monday, June 1, 2020

Dreya Weber excels in Ned Farr's tale of airborne friends and family, THE AERIALIST

The team of Dreya Weber and Ned Farr have made several films together: The Gymnast, A Marine Story and now, THE AERIALIST, which is the first of three I've managed to see. If the other two are as good as this one, I'll have to take a look. It's always a wonderful surprise when a movie you've agreed to watch (but are not expecting much of) turns out to be not merely OK but a lot more than that.

Mr. Farr (shown at right), who wrote and directed the film and also served as its editor, has done a terrific job of assembling all the parts of what is basically a backstage drama involving a group of backup dancers/ aerialists for a highly successful singer known as Aurora.

We don't meet Aurora until the film is nearly over, yet her importance and power hangs heavily over everything and everyone -- especially over Jane (played by Ms Weber) -- the older woman in charge of these backup dancers/flyers and herself a major performer, who we learn from the film's first scene is experiencing the failure of her body to hold up to the demands of her job.

Concurrently, there's an overly snoopy reporter (Morgan Bradley, above) intent on getting a tell-all interview with Jane, along with what looks like something even more personal.

Meanwhile, Aurora's always-in-the-shade daughter Paloma (Victoria Meade, above, center) who is supposed to act as her mother's voice during rehearsal, continues to give the troupe problems, which are only squared by the arrival of a fellow named Xavier (Kelly Marcus, below), a sleazy young man suddenly hired to "run" the troupe, while sowing further dissension among its ranks.

How all this is handled proves surprisingly cogent, sometimes funny and often moving -- thanks to the acting (from everyone on board), and the writing and direction that rarely underscores, instead using a relatively light hand and enough subtlety to keep us moving quickly, enjoyably along. Even if you easily figure out where the reporter's story is headed (as I did), this ought not become a problem because there is so much else going on to keep you involved and caring.

The film's ace-in-the-hole, however, is Ms Weber (above and below), who possesses a face that Farr, his cameraman (Alexandre Naufel) and we simply love. Happy, sad, active and/or in performance, pain or repose, she is riveting -- with not one unbelievable moment in the entire proceedings. She is, as they say, a natural: strong, graceful and above all real.

Thankfully, the actual dance performance and aerial work we see seems to TrustMovies to be exactly the right amount. It's fun and sometimes beautiful but doesn't run on long enough to stop the story in its tracks. By the finale of the The Aerialist, you may find yourself saying aloud to each other, as we did, "Wow -- this was good!"

Distributed by Indie Rights, the movie -- running 102 minutes -- hits digital streaming this Friday, June 5, via Amazon. Click here for further information.

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