Once upon a time 5 points
Come away, UK, 2020
Address: Brenda Chapman.
Script: Marisa Kate Goodhill.
Duration: 94 minutes.
Interpreters: Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo, Michael Caine, Jordan Nash, Keira Chansa, Reese Yates, Anna Chancellor, Ned Dennehy.
Premiere: online at Cinemark / Hoyts and Altas cines through www.cining.com.ar.
Already from the title there is something that is very clear: british movie Once upon a time it belongs to the category of “fairytalexploitation”, if such a thing exists. A film that draws on the source of fairy tales, and in particular on two of the most popular: the stories of Alice in Wonderland Y Peter Pan. It is true that neither of the two belongs to the more traditional set of these types of stories, collected by the Grimm g (h) ermanos at the beginning of the 19th century: the first is a novel that the Englishman Lewis Carroll published in 1865 and the second, a play premiered by the Scotsman James Berrie during the first years of the following century. Still, the family resemblance they share with those kinds of stories is undeniable. A kinship that the cinema helped to strengthen, through the work of the animation studios founded by Walt Disney.
The film begins with a mother telling her children a bedtime story. The clothing, architecture and lighting make it clear that the action takes place at some point within the time frame in which the works of Carroll and Berrie take place. Next, what will be seen is the story of the Darling family, in which the three children of the marriage that form Jack and Rose enjoy the freedom of a life built on the edge of the urban and the rural. David is the oldest and occupies a prominent place for both his parents and his siblings Peter and Alice, playing a central role in family dynamics. His admission to an elite school also seems to augur him a brilliant destiny.
But if it is about weaving cinematographic networks, the viewer can be sure that there is no way that in a family where the parents are called the same as the protagonists of Titanic (1997), the thing does not end in disgrace. That Jack is one of those craftsmen who put boats inside the bottles and that the boys imagine an adventure in an old boat that they find on the bank of a nearby stream, helps to confirm the omen that comes through James Cameron’s film: that the life of the Darlings is heading towards a shipwreck that they ignore.
With tragedy comes trauma and fantasy will be the tool that will allow the Darling children to stay afloat despite the pain. Instead Jack and Rose will sink into loss without finding a lifeline. American filmmaker Brenda Chapman, whose previous experience was in animated cinema –Prince of egypt (Dreamworks, 1998) and Brave (Pixar, 2012) -, manages to balance the pure fantasy through which the works cited pass and the intention of reversion them in a realistic plan. But still it can’t help that Once upon a time it stays halfway, without getting the story it tells to go beyond the mere quotation or the not always ingenious adaptation of the characters and situations of the original works, sometimes solved a bit in a hurry.