Gretel & Hansel (2020)

Gretel & Hansel
Director: Oz Perkins
Writer: Rob Hayes
Based on: the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel as collected by the Brothers Grimm
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Donncha Crowley, Charles Babalola
Seen on: 18.7.2020

Plot:
Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and her brother Hansel (Samuel Leakey) are in a dire spot. Their mother (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) doesn’t have the resources to feed them, so she sends them away, hoping that Gretel may have better luck away from home – to find employment and take care of her brother. But that’s easier said than done and Gretel’s hunt for work finally leads the two siblings to the mysterious cottage in the woods where an old lady (Alice Krige) may have everything they need.

Gretel & Hansel really did not work for me. The interesting visuals were completely marred by the incessant semi-spiritual voiceover that was just annoying for me. I would have preferred a silent film.

The film poster showing Gretel (Sophie Lillis) walking through the woods with an oil lamp. Shoes are hanging from the trees and a cabin can be seen in the back.

I am not a huge fan of voiceovers in general, but I can usually stomach them better when they don’t contain more or less spiritual musings. Gretel & Hansel, unfortunately, does everything I hate about voiceovers: it’s incessant, and it thinks it adds depth by overexplaining – but in a vague way. Just… don’t. Please. (I assume that Malick is to blame. He shouldn’t do it either.)

Without the voiceover, I probably would have liked the film at least 70% better than I did, though I can imagine that it still wouldn’t have worked for me. The story moved too slowly and never really seemed to get much of anywhere. It also spoke of my utter annoyance when Gretel and Hansel eat fly agarics because they are so hungry – probably the most famous and easily recognizable poisonous mushroom that no child living near a forest would ever touch. It’s not a big thing, but when little things like that start bugging me, I know that a film is in big trouble.

Gretel (Sophie Lillis) in the witch's cabin. The witch (Alice Krige) can be seen in the background.

I do have to say, though, that the film is viusally very intriguing. Both the sets themselves and the lighting of them look fantastic and are the biggest points in the film’s favor. Another point in favor is Sophia Lillis who gives a fantastic performance.

But in the end, I actually fell asleep because I just couldn’t be arsed to care about any of it anymore. The film had utterly crushed my will to watch it.

Gretel (Sophie Liliis) and Hansel (Samuel Leakey) arriving at the witch's cabin.

Summarizing: Exhausting.

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