You’re eight years old, your parents are dead and your aunt marches you up a mountain and abandons you on the doorstep of some misanthropic old codger whom you’ve never met and who is rumoured to be a killer. Pretty rough, huh? Not for laughing-girl Heidi (Emma Bolger). For her, it’s pretty much the best thing ever, and before long she’s beguiling her grumpy grandpa. Novelist Johanna Spyri’s 1880 chunk of Swiss cheese always had a few holes and this British adaptation fails to lend it new credence. Blame must be placed with slack direction and a script that prefers to whizz through bite-sized scenes rather than properly develop characters. Old pros like Max von Sydow (as the granddad) and Diana Rigg (as the gran of Heidi’s invalided friend Clara) would sound fine reading the ingredients off a Toblerone box, but the overplaying elsewhere should have been firmly reined in. Indeed, all young Bolger’s (‘In America’) stage-school affectations make it hard to suppress a whoop as she plummets into a ravine near the end.
Friday August 19 2005