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Who Is the Vainest of Them All?

Emmanuelle Jacobson-Roques/2019 Tribeca Film Festival

‎White as Snow (2019)

Anne Fontaine gives “Snow White” a contemporary makeover by recasting the evil stepmother as a hotel owner (played by Isabelle Huppert, bien sur) and the seven dwarfs as men hopelessly charmed by stepdaughter Claire (Lou de Laâge) during her exile in their bucolic village. It may sound inspired, but by what exactly is not clear. In fact, it’s not apparent that Ms. Fontaine necessarily has anything in particular to say about either the timelessness of the Brothers Grimm tale or the times that we live in.

Ms. Huppert is of course superb as Maud the stepmother, more or less a reprise of the same character she has played for more than two decades. At least she seemed to have fun with it in “Greta.” Here she’s just dour and petty over a fairly unremarkable young woman. Maud and Claire aren’t in competition. There’s no compelling reason for Maud to murder her stepdaughter.

Perhaps the toughest sell here is the unappealing Ms. de Laâge. While the audience may be lulled into believing that the desperate, lovelorn townsmen would fall for Claire, it makes little sense that she’d also turn the head of Maud’s paramour.


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