Ballerina – Film Review by Emily Elphinstone
Directors: Eric Summer, Éric Warin
Writers: Carol Noble (screenplay), Eric Summer (screenplay)
Stars: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler
It’s the dream of many little girls to become a professional ballerina, so it seems an obvious choice for the latest animated film from Entertainment One in the run up to Christmas.
Set in France in the 1870’s, orphan Félicie (voiced by Elle Fanning) has big plans to become a dancer despite her humble beginnings and lack of natural grace or training. After Félicie and best friend Victor (Dane DeHaan) escape to Paris from their orphanage in rural Brittany; she begins the real journey of becoming a dancer at the Grand Opera in Paris, with the help of reluctant ally Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen.)
Coming toward Christmas there are reams of family films, both on the big screen, and on the ever-increasing number of television channels; so Ballerina will certainly have its work cut out to stand out amongst the competition, particularly with a storyline targeted particularly towards younger, mostly female viewers: This is not a film with added levels or nods to adult audiences.
There are some charming elements in the film, particularly in the gradually changing relationship between childhood friends Félicie and Victor as they grow up; and in the dance sequences (some of which were made using motion capture of professional dancers to make the movements realistic.) However, the computer animation does not compare favourably to the naturalism seen in the films of Disney or Pixar; and the predictability, while suitable for very young children, may prove tedious for the parents who will also be confused as to exactly what age the characters are – they appear to be pre-teen, yet are allowed to work, and go to bars like young adults. Maybe that’s just how things are done in France?!
Ultimately Ballerina may prove to be a big hit with little girls who know their ‘grand jeté’ from their ‘grand pas’, but it is unlikely to have a wider reach beyond this.