Film Review – Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror (PG)

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Director Tarsem Singh has a striking visual style and flair that could make a reading of the White Pages take your breath away. Tarsem, as he is usually goes by, turned the so-so scripted J. Lo serial killer vehicle The Cell into a beautifully nightmarish experience then more recently made the laborious Immortals a feast for the eyes. Up until Mirror Mirror, he has been more Zack Snyder than David Fincher when it comes to choosing the right scripts to utilise his gift.

Toning down the violence and hypnotic visuals he is known for, Tarsem plays it straighter for a family friendly film that still allows his imagination some space to move and have fun with sumptuous designs. He even gets the chance to handle a spritely and comprehensible script.

Mirror Mirror starts off familiarly enough, with some back story following the Snow White story we know and love fairly closely. A money-grubbing and bitter Queen (Julia Roberts), obsessed with her appearance, married the King (Sean Bean) but was insanely jealous of his daughter Snow White’s (Lily Collins) beauty. Once the King disappears in the forest and is presumed dead, the Queen locks Snow White up in her room and rules the village with an iron fist.

Fast forward to Snow White’s 18th birthday and her adventures begin as she meets a prince (Armie Hammer) and the seven dwarfs as she attempts some independence from her evil step mother and save the village people. So far, so familiar, but what brings this version to life are the tweaks that Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller have made to the Grimm fairytale. Just wait until you see what role the dwarfs play in this version.

The script is sharp with a few winks and nods to the audience, some terrifically delicious details and colourful characters. And the cast  is game. Roberts, who appears to be relishing the chance to spit some nasty quips, pleasantly surprises as the smarmy Queen. Hammer is utterly charming as the prince and Collins, who failed to register in the abominable Abducted, is alternately sweet and feisty. And in true Tarsem style, this all unfolds in some delectably designed sets and costumes that would have you picking your jaw up off the floor.

We are yet to see the seemingly more adult Snow White and the Huntsmen (the release was pushed way back to avoid a clash with this kiddie friendly version) but this frothy fairytale will be enough to tide us over in the meantime. Who knows, this could be the fairest Snow White story of them all.

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