Ballerina – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Eric Summer, Éric Warin
Starring the voices of: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen
In cinemas December 19th
There are always a slew of animations released around this time of year as studios know that parents will be trying to amuse their little ones during the holiday season so the timing of this release is no surprise. And as you may have guessed from the title this is aiming to tick all the boxes for the little girls (and some little boys). After all at some point most little girls twirl around dreaming of wearing a beautiful tutu while dancing en pointe, just like the main character here.
Félicie (Fanning) dreams of being a ballerina. Along with her friend, wannabe inventor Victor (DeHaan), she runs away from the children’s home in which she lives in order to pursue her dreams in Paris. After finding work cleaning with the mysterious Odette (Jepsen) who is responsible for the upkeep of the Paris Opera House, she manages to secure a place in its celebrated dance school by intercepting an invitation to join meant for someone else. However ballet proves to be more difficult and demanding than she thought and landing her dream dance role is going to be more challenging than she imagined.
This doesn’t have any of the gimmicks or big musical numbers employed by most contemporary animations. Instead it relies on developing the characters to tell the story. It also has the advantage of extremely realistic looking ballet scenes thanks to employing the services of Aurélie Dupont and Jérémie Bélingard, two star dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet, for key frame animation. Félicie’s wide eyed innocence and determination to follow her dream is something most people will relate to and this is extremely heart warming. It lacks the nuanced humour of many animations and there may not be enough “grown up” humour and references here for the adults. However they should still find it sweet and entertaining.
At the screening I attended several little girls started mimicking the on screen dancing in the aisles of the cinema and they were clearly captivated by what they were seeing on screen, which is what you want from a children’s film. This may not be as sophisticated as say Disney Pixar’s offerings and it may be lacking in action but it definitely has a charm. Be warned though – your little ones will probably hound you for ballet lessons afterwards.