Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mirror Mirror (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Mirror Mirror

Now at The Tropic in a snap, is "Mirror Mirror" the latest adaptation of Snow White directed by a virtuoso of visuals, Tarsem. Tarsem, the director of "The Cell" is fond of surreal elegance. Born in India, Tarsem uses chiaroscuro to great effect and seems to shade everything he portrays in the colors of Bollywood. In "The Cell" he illustrated the world of a serial killer using as inspiration what looked like a cross between Maxfield Parrish and Yves Tanguy . It proved a dark delight for the senses if not a coherent narrative story.  

In "Mirror Mirror",  Tarsem deliberately wields the camera like a magic wand of silver buttercreme and once again he does not let us down. Indeed, I would argue that the singular reason to see this film is for the visuals alone which put H.R. Giger, Liberace and Jean Paul Gaultier to shame. Every interior is either avian inspired or nautilus in shape. Walls and alcoves fold upon each other in great billowing swirls, more gold than gold. This visual sweep is further enhanced by the costumes of Eiko Ishioka who sadly passed away this year, at age 73. 
Julia Roberts is the main headliner as The Queen. Roberts is a total hoot here and all you would expect as a vain, superficial status cougar-queen with lips and nails that are as sharp as quills. And, as a dominatrix inked from a Sharpie Extra Fine, she also has the best lines, pertaining of course to status and beauty.

Let us not forget the dashing Armie Hammer as Prince Alcott. He is as generic as toothpaste and as bland as a Ken doll but that is his character after all, and he plays it well. 

We also have newcomer Lily Collins as Ms. White. Her performance is rather traditional, but in all her fairness,sable hair and rosebud lips like the bee-stung hibiscus, she cuts quite a Fairy Tale presence. If I have to be critical--and I fear I must--I admit that the dwarfs are the weakest component. They just don't seem to do all that much. We mainly see them just bop and bang about and hit each other. Cloaked in predominant browns and beiges, these faceless clowns seem more like Larry, Moe and Curly as imagined by Pieter Bruegel. Whatever sparks they share is mostly due to their underground home: part oversize slipper part gigantic tree. These Seven spend an inordinate amount of time on screen bickering, shouting and hitting each other. And for me, at least, their maudlin antics wore a bit thin. I missed their original predecessors.

Still, there is enough here to make the kid in all of us grow a few inches taller. We have the irrepressible Nathan Lane who uses his annoying hyperactivity to great satisfying effect as Brighton, a sycophantic foot-soldier to the queen. Brighton's quips are without compare and they succeed so well because they make no sense whatsoever.

On the whole, this story is rather conventional and almost hi-ho-ho-hum- but the kaleidoscopic bravado coupled with Roberts' irreverent vanity ala Joan Rivers, remains the charmed glue that holds this story together. 

New adaptations and twists begone! You will not go away disappointed by Disney: the apple scene will have your heart beating like it is 1937 once more.

And please, remember to suspend yourself in your seat beyond the credits for some musical pyrotechnics that will pop in your ears.  It is the final arresting dash  of Kesar atop this somewhat pedestrian, yet ultimately glorious Gulab Jamun of a film known as "Mirror Mirror".

Write Ian at

No comments: