If you are one of those people that skip the company logos in the beginning, I wouldn’t be shocked if you thought Gretel & Hansel to be a part of A24’s catalogue. Playing with some cartoonish shot compositions nearly every time, it definitely separates itself from expectations that one might have about a retelling of this very famous tale. Certainly a bang for your buck visually but the rather dreamscape-y way the scenes play out isn’t as compelling.
I would recommend Gretel & Hansel to anyone who is fan of cool production design that gets fully absorbed in framing of the shots. They are often built around the shapes of buildings, rooms and set designs, it’s nice to see that relationship between a film’s cinematography and the creative team. The use of dark and faded colour work really well for the tone the movie is going for. Acting-wise a good thing is that there’s no sense of half-trying even with limited shooting times with kids, those being Sophie Lillis as Gretel and Samuel Leakey as Hansel. They do alright however Alice Krige as The Witch is fantastic, she is straight up unnerving to watch constantly.
There’s quite a bit of narration weaving in and out which often leads us more than things happening on the screen which is unfortunate. It neither commits to being an artistic part and neither is it used as an introduction like in tales of classic literature. That combined with weirdly timed cuts during scenes and when ending them makes the storytelling a bit of a bore honestly. Taking in the fact that it’s an PG-13 movie, the zero mystery about everything is a letdown as it’s usually reserved for young kids’ entertainment. One smaller note is about the title since Hansel isn’t much of a character at all, this is mostly about Gretel so mentioning Hansel always like he isn’t a part of anything, seems like a misstep.
Smileys: Production design, Alice Krige
Frowneys: Editing, narration, characterisation
”There’s an ominous drug trip in this kids tale? How isn’t this A24?”