Why, oh why, was not some attempt made at deconstructing the persona of the wicked stepmother in Mirror, Mirror, Tarsem Singh’s version of the Grimms’ Snow White?
According to the hype, Singh has counter-cast ‘America’s sweetheart’ Julia Roberts as the stepmother to Lily Collins’ bloodless and repressed princess. But, newsflash: Julia Roberts is a past-her-prime actress in her mid-forties. Her casting is entirely appropriate.
What’s inappropriate is the way Singh hints at unexplored aspects of the stepmother matrix without following up: pre-menopausal sexuality – quickly dusted over with fairytale snow and inept men at the wrong end of the phallic gaze – amounts to a passing inconvenience; masks and mirrors are mere surface trickeries.
Like the Roberts’ smile, these stratagems are little more than lip service, barely scratching at the material’s potential.
Mirror Mirror (Spieglein Spieglein – Die wirklich wahre Geschichte von Schneewittchen) | Directed by Tarsem Singh (USA 2012), with Julia Roberts, Lily Collins. Starts April 5