This is Angelina’s best role
A lesson even. Sharp, sharp, salient, the Jolie is back in one of her best roles. In a few scenes, she dominates the whole (character and film) in a hallucinatory way and reminds us that the greatest Hollywood star is her. It only takes three expressions and a well-felt approach to succeed in giving relief and making believable a character who was only an iconic croquemitaine without thickness. A cape, cropped wings, and that haunting bony face? Impossible to see Maleficent without noticing that, with age, the actress cultivates this bizarre strangeness, a morbid drought that contrasts with the stereotypes of the Hollywood blockbuster star (virile woman or sexy killer). Here, she mutes her sex load to keep only the death drives and her attempts at redemption. As she had done in Wanted and in Salt, Jolie draws the quintessence of her character, fills it to the minimum to give it maximum impact. It is this absolute dosage, this monstrous control that leaves the viewer in disbelief. At this point of control, basically, we only see Tom Cruise.
But it’s not just her and the film’s interest is also in what she plays: a live Disney character. Far from the monstrous jokes of a Depp / Hatter or the queer follies of Franco in Oz, Jolie embodies her witch character in a hyper straight, almost literal way. She is inspired by her model and tries to give it depth and humanity where the two previous live heroes sought to make their characters crazy. This is undoubtedly the real success of this film, transcended from start to finish by an unparalleled performance.
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This is the film of an artistic director
Not from a director. Just see the fairy world from the opening of Maleficent to remember that Robert Stromberg was first the Production Designer for James Cameron and Tim Burton. A decorative chef, a DA (of genius, if so) able to give shape to the craziest and most eccentric visions. The film loots (with varying degrees of success) the Edenic phantasmagoria ofAvatar, the lush worlds of Big fish and of Alice in Wonderland. It’s beautiful, poisonous. Monumental. But quickly sterile. Because past the incredible 3D, the photo and the visions of dragons, aerial ballets or vegetable delirium, the film does not manage to take off, to embody its emotional issues. Never carried by a staging at the height of these visions, Maleficent dark in the illustration and doesn’t achieve the epic feel it aims for. It is particularly crying in the combat scenes (the dragon, the war) not very well managed, the reversal of the intrigue and especially the part which concerns Aurore, a little silly.
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It’s a funny experience
We know the principle: tell the story of The Sleeping Beauty from the witch’s point of view. Double challenge for Disney: reverse the moral (the hero is a villain) and play with the feeling of déjà vu without tiring the viewer. Stromberg, little scientist in psychoanalysis but great in illustration, invents an original way to do battle with a truly universal matter, which affects practically all the inhabitants of the planet. Namely those who knew the original tale, but especially the millions of spectators who have ” already seen ” the version “Official” cartoon. The characters are faithful to the rendezvous of memory: the three slightly stupid fairies, the shapeshifter crow, the witch, the king, the prince charming. They are all there, but have all changed a bit. A bit like when you come back to an old house that you haven’t lived in for a long time and whose layout has been changed by a new owner, you are in familiar territory with a feeling of strangeness all the same. Yes, the plan of Triumphant Maleficent is there, traced from the original cartoon, but the dragon does not have the same mouth anymore. And the curse has changed. It is in these differences that the interest of the film, among others, lies. Less in the radical changes (we feel that the beginning of the film, the origin story of the witch, has been butchered) than in these subtle variations.
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It’s a remake of Frozen
A witch who lives as a recluse, a curse launched that must be tried to stop, the (symbolic) death of Prince Charming, and the idea of the sister / mother who wakes up the sleeping princess. Strangely, Maleficent is less a rereading of The Sleeping Beauty than a live remake of Snow Queen, the studio’s latest hit with big ears. Fascinating parallel: Maleficent is ultimately as much an operation to relift the classics, a way of bringing the heritage (one of the great challenges of the house since its inception) to life, as it is to affirm once again the intangible identity of the studio.
At a time when it has become the biggest empire of cinema, the most powerful major of the time (Marvel? Disney. Star Wars? Disney. Indiana Jones? Disney), the challenge now is to know how to preserve its identity in this pop cultural universe. Maleficent is as such a “statement”. Disney is first and foremost a reappropriation of its catalog (infinite in its potential rereading) and of narrative axes (the reinvention of the princess film) which intersect and are identical, whether live or in animation. Fall back on its fundamentals to better destroy the house. Revisiting your own mythology to better jump into the future.
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Maleficent: Mistress of evil, harmless curse [critique]
This modern rereading of Sleeping Beauty returns this weekend on 6ter.
Proofreading of The Sleeping Beauty, live remake of Snow Queen, great performance ofAngelina Jolie… What is the Maleficent by Robert Stromberg? On the occasion of its rebroadcast on 6Ter, return on this Disney which was a great success in theaters, in 2014. Note that the actress will be in competition with herself, since this Sunday, Arte will rebroadcast at the same time State reasons, a thriller by Robert De Niro in which she plays Matt Damon.
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