I’m not sure what it was that drew me to this film initially, possibly the beautiful character designs, the fact one of my favourite actresses is in it or maybe even because I’ve secretly always wanted to be a ballerina myself.
For fans of: Tangled, The Miraculous Ladybug, ballet or dance in general
PS: this is the start of (hopefully!) a new series on my blog where I review a different animated film every week which isn’t made by a mainstream animation studio, eg: Disney, DreamWorks, BlueSky, Illumination, etc.
Ballerina or Leap! if you’re American is a 2016 feature length 3D animated film produced by Quad Productions, it stars Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen. The plot of Ballerina goes like this; Set in 19th Century France, a young orphan girl: Félicie dreams of being a dancer, with the help of her friend in the Orphanage: Victor who has dreams of becoming a world famous inventor, they escape in order to pursue their dreams in Paris.
Initially, I was a little apprehensive as soon as the film had begun, I thought the dialogue was forced and a little cheesy, I thought the plot was rushed and that not a lot of thought had gone into it, one second Félicie and Victor were running about the orphanage and a few seconds later they had escaped and were riding on a train to Paris, I feel like there could have a been a little more establishing of characters and motives before the action had begun, you’re left guessing for a few seconds at the start at why the characters are both so ambitious and excitable as well as how they got there, I understand that you only have so long to tell a story but you actually never find out how either of them got to the orphanage in the first place seeing as there are flashback scenes containing Félicie’s mother, I assumed that you’d find out what happened to her. I also thought it was weird how the two are separated as soon as they reach Paris and they seem to be okay with just getting on with it? aren’t these two still children?! in a new city with no money, nowhere to stay and no plan? It felt kind of rushed.
As I mentioned before, there truly are some wonderful character designs within this film, I can’t seem to take my eyes off of the beautiful, green eyed, red haired, graceful Félicie, all of the character’s facial expressions are so emotive and so perfectly animated. I didn’t however like the character design for Régine Le Haut, I felt that she looked like a generic evil mother figure eg: The Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and especially Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, but that could just be because both Cinderella and Ballerina are set in France, perhaps all scary French ladies look like Tremaine and Le Haut? Régine Le Haut didn’t seem to have much of her backstory explained either, she hated Odette and Félicie because she wanted her daughter to be the best? Surely there’s some secret backstory hidden in there somewhere, perhaps Régine like Odette used to be a dancer too? or perhaps she never had the chance to become a dancer so is trying to live her life through her daughter by making Camille dance? It’s up to you to decide anyway as it is never revealed. It’s also never explained why Odette can’t dance anymore, Mérante the strict ballet instruction mentions that there was a fire on the stage but that’s it, we never find out anything else? We also never find out the relationship between Mérante and Odette, was he once in a dance class with her? was he her instructor? We see him treating her with respect and fondness placing his hand on her shoulder or lower back at any given moment regardless of the fact that she’s just a caretaker now, nobody else seems to take any notice of her, perhaps he feels sorry for her as she’s no longer a dancer or maybe he’s just a little creepy…
My last criticism for this film is it’s ending, I might just be nitpicking here but it seemed to end abruptly, we see Félicie training and learning ballet throughout the entire film so that she can star in The Nutcracker and stay on at the school however the film ends during the middle of the Nutcracker performance? Did she do it well? will she continue learning ballet there? will she still live with Odette? what about Victor and her? so many questions with only a freeze frame split jump to summarise all of that.
Overall then, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy this film, it had some cheesy parts, some parts that probably could have been written better but it had funny scenes, great voice acting; Elle Fanning did an amazing performance as always, I thought Dane DeHaan was perfect for the role of Victor and I was actually surprised with how well Carly Rae Jepsen and Maddie Ziegler performed their lines in this film seeing as they have been most successful in music and dance so far. It has an inspiring soundtrack featuring songs from Sia and Odette herself; Carly Rae Jepsen. It was a visually stunning, uplifting film that was pretty inspiring no matter how quickly it all came together plot wise and I really do recommend giving it a watch, regardless of it’s flaws. I can’t say that I was bored whilst watching it! It’s just a genuine heartfelt story with the same talent and technology as some big budget Disney movies.