Yuli: The Carlos Acosta Story
Stars: Carlos Acosta, Santiago Alfonso, Edison Manuel Olbera Nunuez, Yerlín Pérez, Laura De la Uz
Scripted by long-time Ken Loach collaborator, Paul Laverty, this biopic about the Cuban dancer attempts to enliven the genre via some meta touches and time-juggling chronology, but for a picture about ballet, it feels disappointingly flat-footed & graceless. It begins with the present-day Acosta (playing himself) gazing pensively at the Havana streets as he is driven to the Cuban National Ballet centre. There he is rehearsing a piece with some younger dancers about his life. The story flashes back to show the life of the young Carlos (Nunuez) aka Yuli, son of a black truck-driving father Pedro (Alfonso) and white mother Maria (Pérez). Yuli is an accomplished street dancer but, in a neat twist, is dragged away from street dance offs by his brutish father and taken to audition with the more traditional National Ballet. Despite his reluctance, Yuli is accepted when teacher Chery (De al Uz) recognises the raw talent. After his studies Acosta (played in the older incarnation by Keyvin Martinez) scores a place with royal ballet and relocates to London. Once he has embarked on his career the film loses impetus and resorts to a mere ticking off of the dancer’s achievements.