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'Blancanieves' review: Fairy tale retold

Macarena Garcia as Carmen in Pablo Berger's

Macarena Garcia as Carmen in Pablo Berger's "Blancanieves," also starring Maribel Verdu, Angela Molina and Sofia Oria. Credit: Cohen Media Group

The most disconcerting generational disconnect among moviegoers today isn't about 3-D, CGI, or whether Seth MacFarlane is funny. It's about black and white: Anyone under 30 seems to suffer an incurable allergy, which is a shame, because, in addition to its being a silent movie, "Blancanieves" -- Pablo Berger's picante retelling of "Snow White," replete with Freudian shadows and overactive glands -- comes to us in the kind of glorious noncolor dreams are made of.

Comparison will undoubtedly be made (and here comes proof) to 2011's "The Artist" or last year's "Tabu," both of which dispensed with spoken dialogue. But Berger's passionate romance seems even better able to exploit, organically, the essence of pure film as a purveyor of meaning, in story that possesses enough iconic tropes to make dialogue superfluous. (And among the familiar sights is Spanish goddess Marilu Verdú, who plays Blancanieves' deliciously evil stepmother and is best known here for "Y Tu Mamá También" and "Pan's Labyrinth").

Our poison-apple-chomping heroine is Carmen (Sofia Oria as a girl, Macarena Garcia as a lovely young adult), whose mother (Inma Cuesta) dies in childbirth after witnessing her bullfighter husband (Daniel Giménez Cacho) laid low by a bull named Lucifer. Dad unwisely marries the sex-crazed Encarna (Verdú), whom Carmen flees, falling in with a bunch of short circus types and later becoming a toreador herself. She is comforted by a grandmother -- rather than fairy godmother -- played by Ángela Molina. If one is looking for exact replication of the Grimm-cum-Disney story, there's no magic mirror either, and something of a shortage of handsome princes. But there's no lack of passion, charm, or gorgeously seductive imagery in this winning Iberian fairy tale.

PLOT A silent, Spanish "Snow White," in which the abandoned child of a flamenco dancer and a bullfighter falls in with circus dwarves and becomes a toreador herself.

RATING PG-13 (some violent content and sexuality)

CAST Marilu Verdú, Macarena Garcia, Ángela Molina


BOTTOM LINE Sensuous, mischievous, hotblooded retelling of the old Teutonic fairy tale.

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