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Despite your usual Weinstein Company delays, Leap or Ballerina is surprisingly touching and the only quip that can really be made deals with the music and villain.
Characters & Storyline
Sometime in the late 1800s in France, two orphans with huge dreams escape from the refuge of their Catholic orphanage for Paris. One, Victor (Dane DeHaan) wants to be an inventor. Something similar to the great Leonardo da Vinci. Then there is Félicie (Elle Fanning), who inspires to be a great ballerina. However, with no title, money, or training, she has a much harder time trying to reach her goals than Victor.
Luckily, she finds herself meeting Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen) her first night in Paris and while Félicie annoys her, at first, she comes to love her and mentor her. Thus setting her up to, at the very least, earn her opportunity to be on stage and become a coryphée. Though with her having to lie, cheat, and catch up on years of training to earn said spot? Well, nothing is guaranteed. Especially in the studio of Monsieur Merante (Terrence Scammell).
[…] there’s a difference between being ready and being ready to do it well.
A Lovely From Nothing to Something Story
To be honest, I was expecting something horrible. The art style alone seemed like something used for direct to DVD movies. However, you will be left pleasantly surprised that your usual orphan story will get you a little bit choked up. Not to the point of tears, mind you, but watching Félicie constantly be within reach of her dream as well as being torn from it will tug lightly on your heart strings. On top of that, you have Victor, this boy she grew up with, her first fan, trying to not get lost in the shuffle as she meets new people, gets exposed to new things, and he himself is trying to become the inventor he feels destined to be. Making for a nice little romantic subplot to go alongside Félicie’s journey in becoming a ballerina.
As much as the music fits the mood of the scene, none of it really fits the movie. Reason being, everything sounds very modern and like Top 40 pop. None of it sounds like it would fit into an opera house preparing for a production of The Nutcracker, nor late 1800s Paris. Which does screw up the experience of watching the film a bit.
Lack of Character Development/ Plot Holes
While it is clear Regine Le Haut (Julie Khaner) is the villain of the movie, even if her child Camille (Maddie Ziegler) seems like she would fulfill that duty, you are left wanting so much more out of her. For one, there is this question of why she so badly wants to live vicariously through Camille. We are given an idea towards the end of the movie, but never a laid out reasoning behind why she pushes Camille so hard and utterly refuses to let Félicie succeed. Much less, it is hinted that there might be more to Regine’s relationship to Odette than her simply being her employer but that isn’t developed at all. Hell, when it comes to Odette and Merante’s relationship there seems to be a subplot that surely this movie could have explored a bit. If it was a time issue, surely Rudi (Tamir Kapelian) could have been cut to make up for the flashbacks. Much less the girls who you’d think were going to become Félicie’s friends in class, but end up being introduced one scene and basically silent for the rest of the film. Not due to the fact they are competing with Félicie to get a role in The Nutcracker, but it seems their purpose began and ended with showing she was green and to introduce Rudi. So, all things considered, all three could have been cut for some Odette, Merante, and Regine background.
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
While Leap (Ballerina), is certainly better than expected, it fails in ways I wasn’t imagining it to. For between the modern pop music used, to hinting at a storied history between Regine, Odette, and Merante, that we get 0 development on, it disappoints in quite a few ways. Yet, Félicie’s story, and how Odette and Victor play a part in it, redeem it enough to be worth your time. I wouldn’t say this is something you must rush to see, but for those curious, I feel you’ll enjoy yourself.