European films

Film review: Ballerina – unremarkable animated feature of orphan girl who dreams of joining Paris ballet

Co-directed by Eric Summer and Éric Warin, Ballerina has good intentions but offers little that audiences haven’t seen in countless classics before

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 11:39am

2/5 stars

Despite being subjected to occasional debacles like The Emoji Movie , there is little argument that we are experiencing a golden era for animated feature films.

Disney princesses have evolved into feminist icons, stop-motion animation blends seamlessly with cutting-edge digital wizardry, and narratives regularly offer humour and insight to adults and children alike. But when even legitimate masterpieces like Moana , Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings jostle for audience attention, outliers must produce something wholly original, or risk being shut out.

Ballerina, a French-Canadian co-production about a young orphan girl who dreams of joining the Paris Opera Ballet, has its work cut out if it wants to find an audience. From its boilerplate narrative to its unremarkable animation, this film, co-directed by Eric Summer and Éric Warin, offers little that audiences haven’t seen in Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and countless other classics before it.

Film review: Polina – a ballerina searches for her artistic identity in choreographer Angelin Preljoçaj’s movie debut

That is not to say Ballerina is devoid of charm. Felicie (voiced by Elle Fanning) and her fellow runaway Victor (Dane DeHaan) are an industrious couple. After fleeing their orphanage for the bright lights of the French capital, Felicie quickly finds work at the grand opera house as a cleaner, while Victor ingratiates himself with the great civil engineer Gustave Eiffel. Things develop from there, but the problem is, it’s all just rather unimaginative.

Set for a US release later this month under the even less memorable title Leap! (with DeHaan replaced by Natt Wolff and comedy heavyweights Kate McKinnon and Mel Brooks added in supporting roles), the producers are clearly scrambling to get their film noticed. But for all its good intentions, Ballerina simply lacks that je ne sais quoi to make the grade.

Ballerina opens on August 10

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