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Ballet Shoes: Movie/Book Review

Motion pictures, ballet lessons, and aviator dreams are fulfilled by three ambitious orphan girls – Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil – in the charming movie Ballet Shoes. Based on the novel of the same title by Noel Streatfield, the film came out on DVD this August and proved to be enjoyable with its lighthearted story, delightful characters, and morals of family and friendship serving as the backbone of the film.
Set in the 1930's in the streets of London, this girlish flick is about three orphan girls, brought up as sisters, facing economic issues as the money left by their Great-Uncle Matthew (“GUM” for short) begins to trickle away. In order to stay strong, they join the theatre to earn money. As each girl becomes more involved in the theatre business, each of them realizes her own separate dreams. Golden-haired Pauline, played by Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, begins her way up the show business ladder, acting in plays, and eventually ending up in the movies. Practical Petrova – the dark-haired Russian child, played by Yasmin Paige – prefers reading about engine parts, washing cars, and admiring aviators, such as Amy Johnson, than studying tap dancing. Feisty, redhead Posy, played by Lucy Boynton, has the potential to become a real ballerina, as she had come to live with the others as a baby with a pair of her mother’s ballet shoes, and begins to show her talent naturally at a younger age than most girls.
Each of the girls rises and falls, suffers and triumphs in their journey to achieve their dreams. The story of them is accurate in the movie when compared to the children’s novel, but Hollywood tends to add their own flavor into a story as open as Ballet Shoes. In the book, Silvia Brown – the guardian of the three girls, whom nicknamed her Garnie – is perfectly capable and healthy while raising her charges. However, in the movie version, no doubt to add more plot to the story, poor Garnie has a nasty cough which turns out to be more of the focus in the story. Unsurprisingly, there is also a bit of romance that was never even hinted in Streatfield’s novel between Silvia and one of the handsome boarders who comes to live at their home when the Fossil family – as the three girls call themselves – starts renting rooms for board.
Despite the slight choppiness in the plot, the story remains strong around the three girls, particularly after they first “vow” to be in the history books. Watson performs splendidly as Pauline suffers during her years of childish selfishness and teenage drama. Petrova’s character remained mature and attentive throughout the film, as she slowly overcomes her barrier of bashfulness and learns to speak her mind as she becomes stronger. And of course the loveable, yet slightly annoying Posy, with all her steps and tutus, has a spiciness in her flaming red hair which often flares with haughtiness when being reproached for some silly act she had been playing.
Although the film was strong in its main characters, the director did a poor job summing up the story in the end, leaving the viewer blank with puzzlement. Quite often, important facts and scenes were left hardly caressed in the viewer’s mind so it would have to be watched over again to filter everything easier. Furthermore, Ballet Shoes is a definite yes for girls who understand the difficulty to make a dream come true, and how, if they work hard enough,they will find their names in the history books too.




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