May Issue 2012

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 12 years ago

Directed by Tarsem Singh of The Fall (2006) fame,Mirror, Mirror is a quirky spin on the original children’s fairytale, Snow White. A romantic-comedy-fantasy-adventure mishmash, the film begins with the evil queen, played by Julia Roberts (an unusual choice for Roberts who usually opts for woman-on-a-journey-of-self-discovery type of role) narrating the story of the young Snow White whose mother dies and whose father remarries, only to die suspiciously soon after. The evil stepmother then usurps control of the kingdom and becomes the queen of the empire, denying Snow White (Lily Collins in a debut role) her right as the true heiress of the kingdom.

This is as far as the resemblance to the original story goes.

One learns early on in the film that the kingdom has lost most of its fortune and that the queen, in order to maintain a luxurious lifestyle, imposes heavy taxes on her subjects. Roberts’ performance, while comical in some instances, fails to satisfy as she comes off as neither terrifyingly evil nor truly funny. In most of the humorous sequences of the film, she gives the impression of a stand-up comedian who ends up messing up the punchline.

However, a highly entertaining modification in this adaptation is when the aging queen makes a play for the young, handsome Prince Alcott(Armie Hammer) and thus ends up playing rival to Snow White. The clever plot twist adds depth to the story as it supplies a realistic explanation for the jealousy and hatred that the queen, who is no longer ‘the fairest of them of all,’ feels towards her young, beautiful stepdaughter.

A particularly disastrous and cringe-worthy scene is when the queen, in an attempt to make the prince fall in love with her, spikes his drink with a love potion. The potion, as it turns out, happens to induce ‘puppy love’ and results in the prince acting like an actual dog.

Another curious addition to this modern tale of Snow White is that it adapts elements from other classic tales. For example, at the beginning of the film, the queen is seen staring at a bell jar with a dying rose inside, as seen in the 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast, and later on the dwarfs who steal from the queen to give to the poor, seem to follow Robin Hood’s philosophy.

This latest edition of Snow White may not end up as the most memorable version of the classic fairytale. The only real service the film has done is replace the damsel-in-distress persona of the main character, Snow White, with a more, assertive, or rather, aggressive character. And sincere applause must go to the film’s writers for pointing that Snow White, the name, is rather “pretentious,” as articulated by the evil queen early on in the film — a point that was just begging to be made.

This movie review was originally published in the May issue of Newsline.