Pina | Film review
Wim Wenders honors the audacity of choreography giant Pina Bausch.
For a director of such blessed providence in the 1970s and ’80s, Wim Wenders has had some fairly boneheaded ideas over the past decade or so. (A movie about a hotel, written by Bono?) Thankfully, filming modern dance in 3-D isn’t one of them: Pina belongs in the rare category of adventurous material matched with a thrillingly immersive form—suck it, Avatar. Germany’s Pina Bausch was a giant of choreography and instruction; her untimely death in 2009 looked likely to put the kibosh on Wenders’s carefully strategized profile.
But something magical has emerged, no doubt due to the dancers’ insistence that the director continue with his plan. Part remembrance and part celebration, Pina introduces us to the many faces of Bausch’s principal artists, who recall her in voiceover as their lips remain sealed. Elsewhere—and kinetically—we see them move, in the stuttering, repetitive style their mentor pioneered. Couples chase and drag each other, returning to their static beginning points and springing off again; Bausch loaded psychosexual content into every gesture. Meanwhile, Wenders’s use of the third dimension is hardly a gimmick, expanding our appreciation of these pieces’ revolutionary incorporation of props, water and even dirt. This isn’t the kind of doc to explain everything (or anything, really). It does honor its subject, though, and that’s plenty.