From Spain, here's a miracle of fairy tale repurposing: a version of the Brothers Grimm's "Snow White," set in Spanish bullfighting country in the late 1920s.
Writer-director Pablo Berger's
Once upon a time in Seville, a revered bullfighter (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) won hearts and admiration for his prowess with the cape and the sword. Then, tragedy: A near-fatal accident in the ring causes his pregnant wife (Inma Cuesta) to go into labor and die on the table, leaving behind a healthy daughter, Carmen. She's played at age 7 by Sofia Oria and then, with the passage of many years signified by the fluttering of a bedsheet on a laundry line, in young adulthood by Macarena Garcia.
The infirm bullfighter's serpent-like new wife, played by top-billed
Berger has a ripe sense of humor, and it's occasionally at odds with the melodramatic atmosphere. But make no mistake: "Blancanieves" takes its emotions seriously. Those requiring a Disneyfied happy ending may resist the one they get here, which is more Grimm than Walt. En route, the film is a gorgeous achievement. Berger's facility with rapid-fire montage, particularly in a key early bullfight sequence, brakes right at the edge of parody. This is a splendidly edited exercise in style (Fernando Franco is listed as editor), with richly brocaded silvers, grays and blacks courtesy of cinematographer Kiko de la Rica. Best of all: the musical score by Alfonso de Vilallonga. It's terrific — witty, symphonically lush and shrewdly informed by flamenco strains throughout.