Ballerina full movie review - An animated version for kids in which Black Swan meets Karate Kid
"Ballerina" is a French/Canadian co-production in the English language that world premiered in October and is now being released in all kinds of countries and here in Germany as well.
Americans still have to wait until early March. The co-director and also one of the three writers is Eric Summer, so he was probably the man most in charge of this 1.5-hour film. It is set a long time ago and tells the story of a young girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina. I liked how they referenced the time this film plays by historic context, for example the unfinished Eiffel Tower, the fact that they had motorbikes, but no airplanes or the Statue of Liberty. This was pretty nicely done and also has a bit of an educational purpose. Besides that, the film's strongest side is probably the animation. This is really a beautiful movie for the most part and very nice to look at. This also refers to the female main character and it's impossible not to cheer for her when she tries to live her dream. This is also crucial as, if we are honest, the story is pretty generic and predictable. But that's not a problem if you cheer for the girl throughout the entire movie.
Her best friend brings some nice comic relief and also the friend of the bets friend in the second half. It's a sweet little story. The dance instructor (voiced by Joachim Llambi in the German version eurgh...) feels like an animated French version of Dieter Bohlen and the casting show context of the film may not really have helped matters overall, especially as we don't find out about the other contestants. We just see them eliminated one-by one. But these are just minor flaws, just like the fact that the film is sometimes too melodramatic for the sake of it, like the murder attempt at the end, the fire reference about the lady in crutches, the orphanage background, the way she falls several times at the big finale of the competition etc. If you look at the film from a certain perspective, it is actually slightly depressing. But there are also several uplifting moments for sure, some of the pretty memorable and emotional, like when she sees the ballet dancer for the first time. Or when she hugs her instructor at the very end. In general, a film full of hugs. It's a movie that has a lot to do with making the right decisions. Maybe the film suffers a bit too much from character being either completely positive or negative, even if I think with the final (realistic?) change in mind of the other girl they may have made up for it a bit. And I also believe that her instructor somehow deserves her own film with all the vague information we get about her life. Maybe it will be made some day. Who knows.
Now back to this one here, there is also a nice song by Sia included in here and this was maybe the best music moment from the film. Fittingly, Maddie Ziegler voices one of the main characters, even if not in the dubbed version I watched. The German voice for the main character by the way comes from Maria Ehrich from the Rubinrot film and sequels. As for this animated film here, there is some good, some not so good, but nothing really great or really bad I must say. Maybe the hug moment between Félicie and the instructor was the best of the best. All in all, it's one of the better animated films of 2016 and I would have been fine with an Oscar nomination, but the film was completely shut out by awards bodies. Then again, maybe it has to wait until next awards season to receive some recognition. If you have daughters who already are interested in ballet and dancing, then this film and the main character will probably win them over completely and keep the idea of becoming a professional dancer in their heads for a long long time.