Thursday, January 21, 2010

I play Grinch with a Christmas piece

After having had a copy of Ballet Shoes on the DVD hard drive for a year (since Christmas 2008), I finally watched it when I couldn't find anything else to watch. I wanted to like it, but it was so precious at every turn that it just irritated me. Unfortunately, in spite of what other reviewers have said, I don't think Emma Watson, from the Harry Potter series, is ever going to be much of a star. There's a scene in this film where she's supposed to show off her acting skills to Sir Donald Houghton (or should that be Sir Donald Wolfit, on whom the character is obviously based?). She does a bit of pushing herself forward, recites some Shakespeare, and voila! she has the job. Crikey. If only things were so easy. Her sister, played by Yasmin Paige, is supposed to be the dud in the acting department - yet Paige outshines Watson in nearly every scene in which they're together.

Oh, well, where do you go after Harry Potter? Rupert Grint (I wrote 'Grinch' at first) hasn't shown us where he's going as yet, if the awful Driving Lessons is anything to go by - although part of the problem with that film is that it's just plain nonsense. (Laura Linney as a fundamentalist Christian and over-protective mother? Nah, it just ain't right.)

Anyway, back to Ballet Shoes. What did the designer have against Victoria Wood? She's saddled with the most extraordinarily awful wig in the business - it sits around her face as though she was being eaten alive by some hairy monster. Okay, it might be in period, but it makes her look ridiculous - and quite apart from that, Wood seems uncomfortable with the role most of the time anyway.

The best thing(s) about the movie are Emilia Fox and Marc Warren. She develops this smouldering and seemingly unrequited love for him which he apparently doesn't notice - except that he's noticed all the time and is somehow tongue-tied about approaching her. Curious, since he's been married before. But these two actors give depth to their parts, particularly Fox, who is a joy to watch throughout, and whose face constantly indicates more than we're hearing her say.

There are plenty of other famous actors on tap, but most of their parts are so underwritten that they barely get a chance to show off their chops. Reducing the story down to a ninety-minute movie was probably not a good idea (it was done as a series back in the seventies). Everything happens at lightning speed; the girls seldom lose an opportunity, and everything comes out tickety-boo in the end. Think I'll go back to the book and see what's missing.
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