"Granted, I'm not the target audience for this film..."
Unwatchable for anyone who isn’t a mad ballet fan, Turning Point does feature one particularly neat aspect. It features a knock down, drag ‘em out cat-fight between Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine, which while not important to the story, is fun to watch nonetheless. Can't say the same for most of the other scenes...This film features more ballet dancing than you could shake a nutcracker at, including (somewhat oddly) little subtitled credits before each dance number. I guess it’s nice for inexperienced audience members to get that little bit of info, but it turns what should be a movie into something akin to a Wide World of Sports presentation of the World Ballet Championships.
Shirley MacLaine is a former dancer who gave up potential stardom to be a mom and now regrets her choice. Anne Bancroft is a dancer who avoided the whole mom issue and just went for the stardom, and who now also regrets her choice. And Leslie Browne is MacLaine’s daughter who might well become the next superstar of the callused toe.
And we, for the most part, are the poor audience members looking for an intriguing movie and finding a two hour ‘best of the ballet’ clip. A subplot involving a romantic fling between Browne and dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov was apparently enough to get both of them Best Supporting Actor/Actress nominations for both the Oscars and Golden Globes in 1978. Meanwhile, the film itself scored 11 Oscar nominations in total, including twin nominations in the Best Actress category for Bancroft and MacLaine – neither of them won.
The dialogue is pretty awful, even if those delivering it are generally enthralling enough to leave you not concerned with how hokey the words sound. Looking back, Turning Point is one of those films that the Academy loves but audiences quickly forget, like The English Patient, Secrets and Lies and Reds It’s a worthy flick, but whether you’ll be able to endure it depends mightily on your outlook on ballet.My outlook is ‘it’s bollocks’.