IFFR 2013 Review: MIROIR MON AMOUR, Can Snow White Out-seduce Her Mother?
There certainly wasn't a shortage of films about Snow White in cinemas this past year, what with Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, and Blancanieves. The last of these actually played at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and ended in the Top-5 for the audience award (with a whopping high mean rating of 4.6 out of 5!).
But would you believe it, there was yet another Snow White adaptation at this year's festival: Siegrid Alnoy's Miroir Mon Amour. You'd be forgiven for not having heard about it though, as the festival's screening was its International Premiere, its first showing outside of its native country of France.
Unlike the other film versions, Miroir Mon Amour is both a "what if..." and a sequel to the well-known fairytale. It focuses on the relationship between Snow White as a maturing teenager and her aging mother, and their changing outlooks on sexuality.
Did I like it? Ehm... no.
Immediately after the events in the fairytale, Snow White and her prince travel to his home. The prince's parents are delighted about their son wanting to marry the princess of the neighboring country, and contact Snow White's parents for a visit.
Snow White herself is quite unwilling to return home, though. She is still convinced her jealous mother tried to have her murdered, so as to remain the most desirable woman in the land. Despite Snow White's protests, they all travel to the castle of her parents. Once there, an increasingly enraged Snow White witnesses how all the men, including her newly betrothed, fall for her mother's charms...
I love to talk about movies I like, or love. Therefore, this review is hard work for me, as Miroir Mon Amour was my least favorite of all films I saw this year at the IFFR. It annoyed and angered me. But that in itself doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad film, so I feel compelled to try and describe WHY I didn't like it.
First a brief description of the film itself: like a filmed stage play, it features only a few actors, only a few props, and only a few locations. The setting is almost contemporary, with mostly Rolls Royces used for transportation instead of horse-drawn coaches. The houses used as palaces are worn, empty, formerly grand but deteriorated.
And as a depiction of a European-style royalty, with its former grandeur, this works fine. How the story and characters are handled within that setting, however, is less impressive. Good news first: Snow White's parents are played by Fanny Ardant and Carlo Brandt, the latter of whom is fantastic and the only believable person in the entire movie. What a presence! Had the film been just about him and his views on the crazy, hysterical people surrounding him, this film would have been a pleasant one indeed.
Instead, the film focuses on the sexual battle between the aging Queen and her coming-of-age daughter, and this is where the film dares to be very pretentious indeed. I do not use that word lightly: most art is built upon artifice, and what one person will find acceptably absurd will be insulting to the next. Yet Miroir Mon Amour gave me the impression that Siegrid Alnoy was trying to teach me something about women, and telling it to me in a condescending way from a great height.
It reminded me of an episode of Sex and the City which started with a monologue stating: "The reason why women in New York are the most beautiful in the world...". And all I could think of from that point onward was: "Are they? Who the hell is saying that?"
This film annoys me in the same way, trying hard to prove a flawed point, and an uninteresting one to start with. It doesn't help that all women in Miroir Mon Amour are fiercely unlikable creatures, self-absorbed and vapid, while most of the men (kings excepted, apparently) are spineless and dumb.
When I saw it, by the time the film showed a stroboscopic compilation of real-life royal weddings, it had lost me for whatever it wanted to tell me. Whether it was about royalty, sexuality, or women, I felt nothing for the people in it, and whatever conclusion it reached was meant for a different audience than me.
This obviously wasn't my cup of tea. With characters as generally obnoxious as these, I couldn't be bothered what happened to whom. Despite strong acting from some of the supporting characters, whatever message about the battle of the sexes this film contained was lost on me, by way of annoyance and sheer indifference.
Audiences in Rotterdam awarded the film a 3.0 out of 5, which I consider to be very generous.