An orphan girl dreams of becoming a dancer in this charming animated kids’ film set in 1879 France. Flame-haired Félicie (voiced by Elle Fanning) runs away from her Brittany orphanage with her friend Victor (Dane DeHaan). In Paris, he becomes an apprentice to Gustave Eiffel, and she joins the Opera as a ballerina – by assuming a rich girl’s identity. It’s a classic rags-to-riches set-up that captures the thrill of success while delivering a lesson about the need to work jolly hard to get there. Fanning’s earnest voiceover helps make Félicie a winning heroine, while DeHaan’s Victor is a sweet, smitten teen.
Laughs come here and there, but this is more about the magic of dreams and dance: the choreography uses motion capture of Paris Opera Ballet dancers to uplifting effect. The film is also visually opulent – the velvet frocks look sumptuous to the touch. It’s a shame that the magnificent ‘Swan Lake’ is combined with cheesy modern pop ditties. ‘Ballerina’ is at its best when harking back to the past.