Last year, Hollywood coughed up two takes on Snow White: one camp, one dark, neither much cop. Director Pablo Berger’s free interpretation of the Grimm tale offers another angle, both camp and dark, and the result comfortably tops its bigger-budgeted contemporaries by every possible measure: it's more fun, more stylish and decidedly more memorable.
Set in 1920s Seville, the fairy tale’s key components are given bold makeovers, as the orphaned daughter of a matador father and flamenco star mother joins a travelling troupe of (six) bull-fighting dwarves, with a bandana-wearing rooster named Pepe as her confidant and a wicked stepmother (played with deranged glamour by Maribel Verdú) plotting her demise. Both silent and monochromatic, Berger evokes the filmmaking fashions of the period in which Blancanieves is set, with iris-in wipes and title cards building a cinephile-pleasing pastiche. But like its iconic apple, there’s poison under Blancanieves’ skin, with happy endings replaced by a desperately sad conclusion of which the hardened Grimms would doubtlessly have approved. [Chris Buckle]