<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Tarsem Singh. With Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane.
Two adaptations of the Snow White fairy tale this year and this one by Indian director Tarsem Singh looks like it won’t be the fairer of the two.
We’ve done a whole feature on fairy tale movies this year (read it here) and Mirror Mirror kicks off the festival more with a whimper than a bang. It starts off promisingly enough with some impressive stop motion animation detailing backstory about a king, his wife who dies in childbirth, their daughter Snow White and the new stepmother, the evil witch. We’re told that this is the Evil Queen’s story but then of course at the end we are again told it’s actually Snow White’s story.
Tarsem Singh has tried giving a spin on the age-old tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, even renaming all the dwarfs: Butcher, Half-Pint, Napoleon, Chuckles, Wolf, Grub and Grimm. There’s lots of self-mocking fairy tales but by the end the old clichés are pretty much kept in place.
There’s tons of slapstick and childish dialogue in Mirror Mirror maybe because it appeals to a certain audience or maybe because Tarsem thought that Bollywood is big now and that would make for a ‘mass’ film. He doesn’t need a mirror to tell him he was wrong. A thin plot involving overthrowing the Evil Queen and stopping her from brainwashing the Prince of Valencia (Armie Hammer) is stretched out considerably, gnawing at your nerves at times.
Julia Roberts, looking exceedingly old and wrinkled (or as the Evil Queen puts it ‘crinkled’!) hardly qualifies as being the fairest in the land, so her mirror’s been lying to her. The mirror sorta doesn’t like her very much. Nathan Lane as Brighton, the Queen’s Man Friday is a shell of his comedic self being reduced to a slapstick tool. Julia is also doing a fair bit of hamming in this film. Lily Collins is suitably ‘nice’ but lacking in any personality whatsoever. In fact, that’s pretty much the case with this whole film.
There’s an item number at the end to a song called I Believe (In Love) that is so ridiculous that you wonder if Tarsem thinks that because the world loves Bollywood they’ll stomach Snow White and the dwarfs doing a dance number that has no relevance whatsoever to the movie. In fact at times this film seems more like a bad stage production.
Snow White and the Huntsman with Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart as well as Charlize Theron looks like it will be the fairer of these two adaptations that seem to prove Hollywood has no original ideas left. Oh and Tarsem Singh should just design elaborate costumes and live in his own little gold-painted bubble!