Ballerina (U) ★★★
Directed by: Eric Summer & Éric Warin
Starring: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Carly Rae Jepsen
What's the story?
IT’S 1879 and young orphan Felicié (Elle Fanning) loves to dance and, she's got big dreams of leaving the orphanage behind and going to Paris to become a ballerina.
Taking her fate into her own hands, Felicié decides to follow her heart and, joined by her best friend Victor (Dane DeHaan) who wants to become a famous inventor, the two young friends run away from the shackles of the orphanage and head for the bright lights and busy streets of Paris.
While Victor lucks out and bags a job in Gustave Eiffel's workshop, Felicié manages to get an audition for the famous Paris Opera Ballet but, while she exhibits a lot of will and determination, she's not very graceful on her feet.
But as luck would have it she meets Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), an ex-ballet dancer who knows just what it takes to make the grade, and Odette takes the young and fiery Felicié under her wing and begins training her for life as a dancer.
While we're more used to seeing big budget animated movies from big players like Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks, it's nice to see smaller, independent animation studios deliver and, this French/Canadian production offers something a little more quaint and genuine.
With an engaging story set in Paris late in the 19th Century, Ballerina is a simple tale of a young girl's ambition to overcome the barriers that life has dealt her, to fulfil her goals and reach her full potential.
While the core of the story is simplistic (small girl with big dreams goes to the big city in search of fame and fortune) Ballerina shines with sublime animation, superb characterisation and a winning combination of invigorating energy and a positive, upbeat message.
And there's not much more to it than that. The animation is crisp, colourful and embodies the bygone beauty of old-time Paris and, the wistful elegance of the dance routines is also captured with a haunting, flawless beauty.
The chemistry between the cast is also on the money, with the superb Elle Fanning capturing the energy and spirit of a young girl who is willing to put in the work to see her dreams realised.
A quaint story with some lovely animation, Ballerina is sure to entertain the family on a New Year trip to the flicks.