Women are complicated. It’s an element of humanity that has been explored, and joked about, in numerous films throughout time. However, none have ever been able to perfectly explain this complexity through subtle beauty better than James Bort’s new short film Naissance dune étoile (Rise of a Star).

Emma (Dorothée Gilbert) is a brilliant ballerina. She dances with grace and power, captivating the audience with her perfect achievement of each ballet she participates in. Just as she’s about to secure her spot as the lead in a new exhibition, a personal circumstance threatens what she has worked so hard for. She is excited about this new endeavor, but others around her feel action is required to rectify the situation. Both of these new aspects of life bring Emma joy, but they contradict each other. She must battle an idolized perception of a true dancer and what her own perception of her life will be.

Her secret is hers to know, and while the audience can pick up on what her new situation is, it is not publicly discussed. It doesn’t have to be, it’s something that is personal. Despite how everyone else around Emma feels, they don’t have any say in what she will choose to do. It’s an interesting choice not to say it out right, even though its pretty obvious what it is, proving just how powerful silence can be. It also proves that audiences are smart enough to pick up on hints, and that long over explained plot points are not needed for some films. The audience falls into the story at hand, and the connection you form with the lead is all you need to grab your attention and companionship throughout the film.

For something that is so personal and can affect so many around her, the fact that it’s kept silent is one of the most powerful choices Bort could have made. Story wise, the audience is enthralled by the plot and eager to follow until the end. For the character of Emma, it’s a strength growing within her. There are so many times when the outside world affects what we do, where we are in life, when in reality the only one that should direct our future is ourselves. There is nothing that we have to live up to other than the life we want to create for ourselves. Sometimes that means that the original goal we have for ourselves are either derailed or rearranged, but they all create the perfect scenario in the end.

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It’s also an example of how there are a lot of things that go on in people’s lives that we don’t know about. Not everything is as graceful and choreographed as it seems to be, and we don’t have the right to assume we can comment on it. There is a lot brewing beneath the surface in Rise of a Star, creating an endless emotional connection between Emma and the audience. The connection you feel is relevant to being pushed around, to feeling like you have to do what others think you should do based on what your situation is. 

In fairy tales, this is when the Godmother comes in and guides our heroine to her perfect ending. In Rise of a Star, our Godmother is depicted with glorious tenderness by the legend herself, Catherine Deneuve. Deneuve played the company director Mile Jean, and the one who can ultimately fracture Emma’s dreams of being the Ballerina. The importance of Mile Jean goes beyond the ballet company, it awakens something within us. 

It provides us with strength of self, something that we have always had within but are afraid to harness. The beauty that exudes from this story, from the interaction between Emma and Mile Jean creates an empowering female driven film that our society needs at the moment. However, mimicking the power of silence, the empowered moment expressed in this film lives in the subtle world of storytelling.

The reason the film is inspirational lies in the realization that the audience gets to find the worthiness of situations through our opinions, not anyone else’s. Strength in self, strength in what we believe is right for us, and strength in knowing that as long as we are true to ourselves, others will follow our lead. 

Rise of a Star is a beautiful film that showcases the strength in not only ourselves, but in what we choose to do. If you look beyond that and into yourself, you can conquer anything as well.

Written by Lisa Mejia