First Position - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

First Position Reviews

Top Critic
Trevor Johnston
Time Out
April 10, 2013
Undeniably effective as drama, as we ponder the varying degrees of ambition and talent driving these young people to push their bodies beyond the limit in the hope of grasping a future in the spotlight.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Jennie Punter
Globe and Mail
July 19, 2012
It does a great job developing its characters through its visuals - these are superphysical kids - and honing in on family dynamics.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
July 19, 2012
If you have a yearning to feel awkward, inadequate and lazy, watching the whirling teenage (and preteen) talents in director Bess Kargman's First Position will do the trick.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
May 24, 2012
When it's over, you won't remember so much about who won and who lost. Instead, what remains is the expression on a young dancer's face, reflected in a mirror: showing the joy of being in love with what you do.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 18, 2012
For someone (like me) who has never been to a ballet, the talent of these teens and tweens is a revelation.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
May 17, 2012
A number of the performances are plain stunning - Aran and Joan, in particular, seem born to move - and in many ways watching the movie is like watching a sporting event; there are winners and losers and favorites to cheer on.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Amy Hitt
Washington Post
May 11, 2012
It's an intense journey, and Kargman captures it all, down to the dancers' bloodied and bruised feet.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Allan Ulrich
San Francisco Chronicle
May 10, 2012
Yes, it is possible to create a gripping documentary about the ballet world without resorting to "Black Swan" melodramatics.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jordan Levin
Miami Herald
May 10, 2012
Child ballet dancer and former journalist Bess Kargman brings a dancer's passion and insight to her directorial debut, illuminating the addictive magic and fierce demands of a ballet dancer's life.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
May 10, 2012
Because its subjects are so driven and so talented, "First Position," which is about ballet, is more gripping than the norm.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
May 10, 2012
It's in the quick audience-reaction shots of the young dancers' exultant parents and cringing private instructors that the movie finds its most nakedly human moments.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ellen Dunkel
Philadelphia Inquirer
May 10, 2012
The film shows the grueling work it takes for young dancers like Zamora to look effortless on stage, and First Position shows teachers who range from supportive to borderline abusive.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
May 7, 2012
This is yet another competition doc in the unending legacy of Spellbound, but Kargman is light on her feet, and she has chosen to follow a fascinating group of kids preparing for the 2010 Youth America Grand Prix.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
May 5, 2012
Beneath the jetÚs and bleeding feet, First Position is about toughness of mind as much as visions of beauty. In one case it's about a transformation so profound as to be unfathomable.
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Frank Scheck
Hollywood Reporter
May 4, 2012
First Position overcomes its predictable elements thanks to the inherent visual drama of watching children strain their bodies to the limit in obsessive pursuit of their goals.
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Dana Stevens
Slate
May 4, 2012
First Position is an unabashedly inspirational portrait of what even very young people can accomplish with discipline and dedication.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
May 4, 2012
I've become weary of documentaries about winning prizes, but this one is special because the kids are. They are ardent and amazingly accomplished, but they are also... kids.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Farran Smith Nehme
New York Post
May 4, 2012
[It] seems fresh in the way it respects both the art in ballet and the discipline it demands - even in childhood.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
May 3, 2012
An appealing, largely upbeat documentary about young ballet dancers duking it out, sometimes on point and in tulle, for top honors at the Youth America Grand Prix.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
May 3, 2012
It's a great introduction to the intriguing mix of parents - neurotic, loving, pressuring, calming - who raise great kids who do great things.
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
May 3, 2012
These performers are so young, so serious, so full of dreams and so hard on themselves that it is difficult not to be moved by their striving.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
May 3, 2012
Their devotion to their art is admirable, and the film gets under the skin, if never really in our blood.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Mary F. Pols
TIME Magazine
May 3, 2012
At least half of these young dynamos and their families, all vying for coveted scholarships and spots in ballet companies, could brighten the most forlorn perspective on the state of the American dream.
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Alison Willmore
AV Club
May 3, 2012
The stakes of the final competition [are] heart-poundingly high, even for those who don't give a damn about tights and tutus.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
May 2, 2012
Each of [the] six young subjects vying for the Youth America Grand Prix (and the priceless award of a full scholarship to a top ballet school) is a wonder of self-imposed discipline in service to art.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
May 2, 2012
It's a triumph, in more ways than one.
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
May 1, 2012
This material could have been assembled into a more creative and suspenseful narrative.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Nick Schager
Village Voice
May 1, 2012
The result is a film that eschews in-depth insight in favor of easily digestible who's-going-to-win suspense...
Top Critic
Alissa Simon
Variety
February 23, 2012
Never putting a foot wrong, tyro helmer Bess Kargman's touching, enormously satisfying docu First Position follows six gifted ballet students from disparate social, regional, economic and ethnic backgrounds as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix.