Macarena Garcia plays a courageous matador in gimmicky Blancanieves.
BLANCANIEVES (Pablo Berger). 104 minutes. Opens Friday (May 31). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
If you (like the Academy) fell in love with The Artist, you are duty bound to check out Blancanieves. This Spanish retelling of Snow White (with some Cinderella beats) is yet another exquisitely shot black-and-white silent film that trades primarily in nostalgia and not much else.
Pablo Berger's throwback recreates 1920s Spain - not the historic version, but that of a cultural memory populated by flamenco dancers and matadors. Our Snow White, Carmencita (played by the angelic Sofía Oria as a child and the ripe-looking Macarena García as an adult), is the daughter of a flamenco dancer and a matador. The former dies during childbirth, while the latter is paralyzed after an incident with a bull.
That leaves Carmencita to contend with Maribel Verdú's vain, gold-digging stepmother, Encarna. Verdú has a lot of fun with her sadomasochistic take on the classic evil stepmother, while Oria and García are primarily tasked with flaunting their large, soulful eyes for (the film's true star) the camera.
Berger's ability to create sweeping visuals with the restraints of the 1:85 frame aspect ratio is remarkable. However, the film is so impressed with its recreation of the old iconography that it fails to communicate anything significant with its craft. What's the point of revisiting the past if you have nothing to say about it?
Like The Artist, Blancanieves is delightfully novel, but it also feels trapped by its innovative gimmickry.