Friday, March 30, 2012


Written by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer

The Queen: Snow must do what snow does best - fall.

The story of “Snow White” is one of the most beloved of all time. The Brothers Grimm fairy tale, in which a beautiful, young princess becomes the focus of envy of an evil Queen, and is cast out of her kingdom, has not only endured for centuries, but has also heavily influenced the princess archetype we have come to adopt, for better or for worse. It is an imaginative story that includes mining dwarfs, magic mirrors and a kiss so powerful it can break any spell. It is exemplary of what is considered classic and  Snow’s story is now ready to reach a new generation in MIRROR, MIRROR, a modern mess, I mean, interpretation, that seems determined to ensure future generations want nothing to do with this timeless tale.

Under the supposedly unique directorial vision of Tarsem Singh (IMMORTALS), MIRROR, MIRROR is a grand and elaborate affair. A castle sits upon a mountain ledge and is filled with thrones made of giant shells, unicorn shaped moldings and people as chess pieces, with majestic ships upon their heads instead of hats. The costume work is incredible (executed by the late Singh regular, Eiko Ishioka) and, like of all Singh’s work, the overall visual picture is certainly striking. Unfortunately, the visual style is not the only thing MIRROR, MIRROR shares in common with Singh’s past work. Singh has become, like Tim Burton, a go to director for outlandish visuals and, while his pictures are mostly dazzling, if not derivative of each other, he rarely spends any time on story and character development. It doesn’t matter how pretty the whole thing is when what’s happening isn’t at all compelling. Also, I don’t consider dwarfs on stilts to be original, just ridiculous

MIRROR, MIRROR spends more time with the woman looking into the mirror, instead of the woman the mirror speaks of. With Julia Roberts playing The Queen, it isn’t at all surprising that the story revolves more around her antics than that of the original title character, played by fresh face, Lily Collins. Roberts certainly does seem to be enjoying herself a great deal, and despite her faux British accent dropping in and out at all times, it can be fairly entertaining to watch her be bad for a change. That said, I’m not sure Roberts playing a demanding Queen is that much of a stretch for her. Still, the cast itself make MIRROR, MIRROR a passable experience, one that will likely appeal more to children than their adult accompaniment. Passable is a far cry from timeless though.

PS. Parents, just do me one favour, please; if you do bring your kids to see this, please make sure they see Walt Disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS at some point. They should know what the story is actually supposed to be like.

For more on MIRROR, MIRROR, check out my Hour Community piece about the production itself.


Mr_Sheldrake said...

So you resent that the film tries to make the female protagonist active rather than a passive presence? Should old stories that contain sexist and dated material not be reimagined to fit into modern ideas?

Black Sheep said...

I never knocked the film for giving the princess a more active role, rather than a passive one. My issue with the film's modernization is more related to the dialogue and overall tone of the film. It is after all extremely modern to pander to as wide an audience as possible and that is what I feel Tarsem does here. He lacks focus and it takes away from the film.

The moment where the magic kiss is reversed is one of the only one's I liked in the film.