French-Canadian blonde actress of the 1950s with flawless, chiseled features and a cool, wide-eyed beauty who, after a brief career as a New York model, was signed by George Stevens' Liberty Films, ma...
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Helped to put together financing for two Orson Welles film projects: "The Other Side of the Wind" and the unfinished "Don Quixote"
Moved back to Paris; worked on Ustinov's films "Billy Budd" and "Lady L" in an uncredited capacity
Went to Senegal for a UNDP study on tourism
Toured North Africa performing in French classics
First worked with Peter Ustinov on the London stage in "No Sign of the Dove"
Met Orson Welles at the Venice Film Festival; was the 11th and final Desdemona hired by Welles to star in his film, "Othello" (begun in 1948; completed 1952; released in US 1955)
Went to Paris and joined the Jean Daste Comedie Francaise Touring Company
Returned to Paris; served as artistic advisor on film festivals and as impresario to Bob Wilson, Grotowski, Peter Brook, Cerbanne and Pilobilus
Joined the Charles Laughton Company at the Coronet Theatre in New York performing in the classics
Signed by Welles to a seven-year contract
Toured US with Ustinov's play, "Romanoff and Juliet" and re-enacted the part of Marfa in the 1961 film version
Produced musical documentary "Jammin' in Africa" (directed by Jean Luc Mazignon) filmed in Senegal, Mali, Upper Volta, Guinea, Ghana and Nigeria; also produced musical documentary film, "Sufi Dervishes" in Paris
Played the lead in Julien Duvivier's film, "Le Royanume des Cieux"
Collaborated with producer Michael Butler on the Broadway production of "Hair"
Became part-owner of the Babylon Theater in Paris; produced "Waiting for Godot" in the early 1950s
Starred opposite Welles in "The Unthinking Lobster" (written by Welles) at the Edouard VII Theater in Paris (date approximate)
Put under contract to George Stevens' Liberty Films
Signed by Paramount Pictures to star opposite Alan Ladd and William Holden in "Paradise Island" (project cancelled) in the early 1950s
Became story editor for Seven Arts Film Company
French-Canadian blonde actress of the 1950s with flawless, chiseled features and a cool, wide-eyed beauty who, after a brief career as a New York model, was signed by George Stevens' Liberty Films, making her film debut in a small role in the 1946 "women's picture" "Temptation". Cloutier began her stage career the following year joining Charles Laughton's stage company for a season in New York and the Jean Daste Comedie Francise Touring Company in Paris. After starring in Julien Duvivier's French film, "Au Royanume des cieux/Woman Hunt" (1949), Cloutier was chosen by Orson Welles as the eleventh and final actress he hired to play Desdemona in his film version of "Othello" (completed 1952; US release 1955); her performance is finely honed, simple and straight forward, suggesting the beauty and poignant sweetness of the Moor's innocent bride. Cloutier continued her association with Welles, co-starring with him on the Paris stage in his "The Unthinking Lobster" and later helping to put together financing for his film projects "The Other Side of the Wind" (1972) and the never-completed "Don Quixote".<p> During the 1950s Cloutier starred in such international films as Marcel Carne's "Juliette ou la Clef des Songes" (1950). She played a maid who spends a day at the races with her favorite film star in "Derby Day" (1951) and was featured in "Doctor in the House" (1954).<p> The focus of her career shifted when she appeared opposite Peter Ustinov on the London stage in "No Sign of the Dove" in 1953, marrying the actor-director-playwright the following year (they divorced in 1971) and starring opposite him on stage and in the 1961 version of his hit comedy "Romanoff and Juliet". Cloutier has subsequently raised their three children; worked on a 1966 UNDP study of tourism in Dakar, Senegal; served as an artistic advisor to various film festivals and produced two musical documentary films.
married on February 15, 1954; second wife; first appeared together on London stage in "No Sign of the Dove" (1953); starred in Ustinov's play and 1959 film "Romanoff and Juliet"; divorced in 1971