Though Freddie Bartholomew is a surprisingly compelling young actor, the movie as a whole is like the book: long, sprawling, feeling more like an aimless documentary of someone's life rather than any kind of cohesive story.
The story in this movie is all right, the romance is sweet but pretty forced... the one thing that elevates this film into something lovely is the beautiful dancing. It integrates the dancing into the story marvelously, letting the two influence and validate each other. Take out the extended ballet sequences and there's nothing that special about this movie, but with it, it becomes something very unique and interesting and sad.
This movie desperately wants to be Amadeus... but it's not. It could have been a really good movie, if the writing hadn't been stupid. And if the acting was better. Ed Harris does the best he can with this bizarre script, but everyone else seems like they stepped right out of a soap opera. In fact, this entire thing feels like a soap opera... melodramatic and silly to the extreme.
Ryan Gosling does an incredible job in this movie... but unfortunately, I never really care that much. I can see this movie is well-crafted - well-acted, well-directed, well-written - and, yet, in the end, it just leaves me cold. I understand this movie is *meant* to be cold. In a way it reflects the coldness and unemotionalness of the political transactions that are really nothing more than business deals. But for me it's too cold, too often, and I never get invested in the characters and can only objectively admire the flick, rather than ever being a part of it.