A black-and-white, silent film, from Spain, ‘Blancanieves’ is based on the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs fairy tale. The film was screened at the 14th Mumbai Film Festival as the closing film.
Although the screenplay and the performances move you, the film in totality is not a patch on 2011's ‘The Artist’. No character in the film has been properly established. The story hurries on a bit too much. However, by-and-large, it's a nice film. Just not a 'memorable' one!
Celebrated matador Antonio Villalta (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) gets injured during one of the bull fights, an accident which leaves him paralyzed. His pregnant wife Carmen (Macarena Garcia) goes into premature labour and dies after giving birth. Antonio, who receives a double blow of the handicap and the loss of his wife, becomes bitter towards his new-born daughter and rejects her. He ends up getting married to the nurse who looked after him (she is after his money in reality). However, things take a bitter turn for everyone concerned except the nurse. The daughter, who is christened Carmencita, lives with her grandmother, in deprivation of the love of her father. The father, meanwhile, has been living in a disparate condition at the hands of the 'then compassionate, now conniving' nurse Encarna (Maribel Verdú). Things worsen once Carmencita's grandmother dies and the little girl is forced to live by Encarna's rules. Carmencita, however, eventually ends up meeting her father, who is confined to his wheelchair, and makes up for all the fun that she missed during the childhood days. She also picks up a few matador tricks from her father. A few years pass by and Encarna decides that it is time to do away with Antonio. After her father dies, a murder attempt takes place on Carmencita as well. Although she survives, her memory does not. And then, she meets the SEVEN BULLFIGHTING DWARFS!
The performances are first-rate. The characters could have been better established though. The screenplay is fine for most parts of the film, but at times it does seem hurried. There is no prominent 'threat' as such in the film. Encarna is the major antagonist but even she gets side-lined during the latter half of the film. The film does lose some of its purpose towards the end. There is no clear justification given as to how Carmencita becomes such a fine matador. There is also no clear reasoning given as to why, post her success as a bullfighter, does she not take revenge over Encarna. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the film.
While a film like this does not need to be logically flawless, these discrepancies do take some sheen off it. However, the Snow White fairy tale has been adapted in a fine manner. The 'black-and-white and silent' aspect has been handled wonderfully. There is no blatant 'me-too-The Artist attempt here. Director Pablo Berger has made a fine film.
Not a memorable film, but not a deplorable one either. It's a fine attempt. Not a must-watch.