In his feature film debut, director Richard Raymond keeps the story moving despite some dramatic cliches.
Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times, 2015-04-10
"Desert Dancer" does manage to movingly convey the chilling, ultimately triumphant experience of Ghaffarian's struggle for creative expression under a regime that tried to crush it.
Sara Stewart, New York Post, 2015-04-09
Movies about people trying to start dance companies tend to be as formulaic as sports movies, but "Desert Dancer" escapes the usual drawbacks - corniness and bad dancing - by the urgency of the context.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, 2015-04-09
"Desert Dancer" is a conventional protest drama, but it offers many magic moments - especially when co-stars Freida Pinto and Reece Ritchie perform sinuous routines. Or simply gaze into each other's eyes.
Graham Fuller, New York Daily News, 2015-04-08
A little gem that sparkles brightly as it celebrates not just dance but unshackled, uncensored creative expression.
Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News, 2015-04-08
The film plays too safe with its narrative. Fortunately, like its characters, it's most daring when it's in motion.
Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice, 2015-04-07
There would seem to be only one thing that the act of dancing cannot free the characters in Desert Dancer from, and that's the movie they're in.
Geoff Pevere, Globe and Mail, 2015-04-17
Desert Dancer strays too frequently into melodrama to have much sticking power.
Linda Barnard, Toronto Star, 2015-04-16
Reece Ritchie brings heart to the lead role, particularly in the decisive solo performance that caps the film. But that sequence is as expressive and alive as the rest of the supposedly movement-loving drama is static.
Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times, 2015-04-09
"Desert Dancer" explores fascinating aspects of present-day Iran but suffers mightily from simplistic and sentimental tendencies.
Andy Webster, New York Times, 2015-04-09
It's all over the place. All these are fine places to be when it comes to movies. It's just exhausting to try to be in all of them at once.
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic, 2015-04-09
With its overdrawn characters and hackneyed dialogue, it's a politicized "Billy Elliot."
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2015-04-09
Reduces a politically-charged tale of artistic triumph in the face of oppression to a series of bland platitudes that wouldn't be out of place on an inspirational poster on the wall of a guidance counselor's office.
Katie Rife, AV Club, 2015-04-09
Desert Dancer too often lapses into generic cinematic cliches, failing to live up to the dramatic potential of its subject matter.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter, 2015-04-08
As with so many "extraordinary" true stories, British director Richard Raymond's debut feature leaves you craving more truth and less canned inspirationalism.
Scott Foundas, Variety, 2015-04-08