Stripped of Grand Guignol theatricality and the usual sentimentality, Weaver's 'straight' wicked stepmother and Neill's caring, if ineffectual father stress the sheer unattractiveness of the roles in this adult fairytale. Putting the Grimm back in the story is not necessarily a bad thing, but here the makers provide insufficient atmosphere or developed characterisation to satisfy grown-ups. The film plays like light Hammer horror with inappropriate period finery and design. The script goes the cod Freudian route, with Weaver's actions explained by postnatal depression and grief (accompanied by lots of menstrual imagery), her narcissistic fear of ageing, her unhealthy relationship with her mute brother, and the baggage she brings with her, notably the armoire with its gigantic looking glass. Monica Keena's Lilli/Snow White is a problem. A lightweight, pretty actress, she seems too insignificant to raise her stepmother's vengeful jealousy, and you couldn't care less about her rites of passage.
You may also like