An orphan with a passion and natural talent for dance named Félicie dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. She and her best friend Victor escape from the orphanage in which they live and run away to Paris. There, Félicie befriends a caretaker named Odette and manages to get a place in the Grand Opera house’s ballet school, albeit under a false identity. The truth soon comes out.
It’s never easy to compete in animation against the likes of Disney and Dreamworks, and it’s a relief to see that Ballerina isn’t trying to be either. It’s a time-old story about believing in yourself and working hard to achieve the dreams, even when life hits you back, which pulls on the heart strings, even in spite of yourself.
The voice cast gathered here is impressive – Elle Fanning, Maleficent’s Sleeping Beauty, and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), complement each other well as the leads and give their characters an infectious sense of life. Plus they’re so darn sweet they’d give you a toothache. Call Me Maybe singer Carly Rae Jepsen stars as Odette, though her voice doesn’t have enough prowess to stand out.
Aspects working to the film’s advantage include the production design, namely its two beautiful settings of late 19th century Paris and Brittany, and its stunning ballet choreography (which is based on the movements of Aurélie Dupont and Jérémie Bélingard, two star dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet). There’s also a quite amusing commentary on Dance Moms with the inclusion of Maddie Ziegler in the cast and the fact that her character’s mother is obsessed with Camille, Maddie’s character, becoming Paris’s greatest dancer.
Less likeable aspects of the film include the speed at which Félicie turns from good albeit flawed dancer to having the talents of a ballerina that it would take any individual years to master. Plus there’s a side-plot shooed in of Victor wanting to become an inventor which provides silly, slapstick comic relief (for the young’uns no doubt), as well as a final chase scene that’s unbelievable and just too much. There’s also a plotline involving the Statue of Liberty which is so wrong you’ll just want to face palm.
Young girls and dance enthusiasts will enjoy this flick the most, and there’s just enough going on visually and plot-wise for anyone they drag to the cinema to not entirely hate it.
Review by Deirdre Molumby | 14:22 | Friday 16th December 2016 | Movie Review