Art & Design Magazine

Love, Sex and Fairy-tales

By Mariagrazia @SMaryG


Mirror, Mirror



Can love, sex and fairy-tales be featured all together in one post? Yes, why not? If that's the movies I've watched at the cinema or on TV recently are about, it is just inevitable and obvious. Let's start with love in a contemporary fairy-tale (with sex but only hinted at ) I saw on ITV. Love Life is a modern-day fairy-tale broadcast few weeks ago. Why did I watch it? Do you recognize this young Brit bloke?


Rob James-Collier as Joe in Love Life

Not a clue? Maybe you remember him with slicked back hair, a bow tie and tails.


Rob as Thomas in Downtown Abbey

Thomas, the wicked first footman at Downton Abbey! What does he know about love? Very little indeed. And as Joe in Love Life, he does actually resist love and the idea of growing up or of taking responsibilities in a couple. But he will learn much about all that and about himself in this three part-series, which I liked very much. Andrea Lowe is his girlfriend, Lucy. They are an average couple in love but Lucy's decision to come off the pill makes Joe wish to escape in search for adventures all over the world. When he comes back after twelve months, she is pregnant and her life has turned definitely into a mess:  her baby is going to be born soon without a father, her own father is addicted to betting and gambling and terribly indebted, she hasn't got a job, she's in love with Joe but hates him for being so selfish and childish.


Love Life - Lucy, Joe and little Arthur

Joe will be at her side in the great mess of her life, will take care of her and her child, will discover who the unknowing unaware father is, will be torn between his love for both Lucy and her child and his own fear to grow up. The story will turn even more complicated when the baby's father's wife (yes! he is married!) wants the baby for herself, makes up her mind and hires a lawyer ...
Curious  to see scheming Thomas as a sweet but bit shallow contemporary Peter Pan? I loved him. Especially when he decides to grow up.
(This series has ended but it is available on ITV player)


Hugh Dancy in  Hysteria 

Hysteria was on in Italian theatres for a few weeks in March. I was curious to see it,  more than for its piquant aspects, for its being set in Victorian London and its starring brilliant British actors: Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones and Maggie Gyllenhaal. I was sure that being a British movie, Hysteria would be  humorous, light, elegant comedy and I didn't change  my mind after watching it. The romantic comedy based on the truth of how Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science was funny and never vulgar. 


Felicity Jones, Jonathan Pryce, Hugh Dancy

They use that breakthrough as background for a less specific story of women seizing their rightful place in society and for a bit of  romance. Victorian hypocritical conformism  and its model woman are embodied by Dr Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) and his younger daughter, Emily (Felicity Jones) , while his elder daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a rebellious suffragette, defies her father's wishes by continuing to run an East End settlement for the economically disadvantaged, even after he cuts off her funding. Dr Granville couldn't have got to his invention without the help of his rich and extravagant friend, Lord Edmund St John-Smythe (Rupert Everett), whose hobby is to make electrical tools.
I liked this movie but not as much as I thought I would. It was like watching a Feydeau's  farce (where you expect stereotyped characters, so no claim for that ) but without the same rhythm or  lively romps.
Last came the real fairy-tale, "Mirror Mirror", the classic story of Snow White and the seven dwarves turned into modern comedy. I'll be honest and tell you as soon as NOW that I didn't like it much (at all?) and I even found it a bit boring.
 I still remember how scared I was by the evil queen becoming  an ugly hag when I saw it first as a child in the Walt Disney cartoon version. I'm pretty sure Julia Roberts as the queen,  or as the old  ugly hag in the end, will not scare even the most easily-impressed child on Earth. This movie is more like a parody of the story than a modern re-telling.
Who will believe that an honest mirror would answer "Snow White is the most beautiful woman in the kingdom",  if they compare Lily Collins (Snow White) to Julia Roberts (the queen)? Who will fall in love with the cute prince (Armie Hammer) if he is always beaten by the seven (rather rebellious and aggressive) dwarves and left almost naked and hanging head down? If he is defeated while fighting by Snow White herself? If he must be kissed by her (and not viceversa) because a spell -a magic potion - makes him believe he is a puppy desirous to serve the queen? Can you believe me,  if I tell you I was so bored watching this movie that I hoped it finished soon?
My son commented my disappointment saying: "You wanted to see it and ... you are not a child any longer".  I don't think it is because I'm not a young girl any more (and haven't been for a long time now!)  Teenage sons can be unfair and unjust, can't they?  

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