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Tue August 7, 2007
You get it both ways.
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
In Stardust, you get it both ways: Michele Pfeiffer as a several hundred years old witch and Michele Pfeiffer as a stunningly-youthful 49 years or so of her real face but still a witch. This fantasy-fiction adaptation has a similar bipolarity: The romance of Tristan (Charlie Cox) and Yvaine (Claire Danes) in a strangely magical kingdom just beyond the town Wall's wall is part na?ve Princess Bride, part degenerate Pirates of the Caribbean, and a modicum of Lady in the Water.(Tristan has made a promise to his love that he'll catch a falling star by venturing over the wall into the kingdom.)
Mind you, I enjoyed the childlike part and the raunchy in equal measure with a unicorn and a man turned mouse on one side and a pirate in drag on the other (Robert De Niro as Shakespeare). I'm just not sure who besides me as man/boy will be attracted to this layered fairy tale. The computer graphics are not the most stunning of the year (a positive condition for those of us surfeited with CGI)), the flying ship is awkward, but Michele Pfeiffer's aging body does show some sophisticated special effects.
Supporting the bipolar air of Stardust is Claire Danes in the titular role (Yvaine is a star landing on earth in the form of an attractive young woman). Danes is an off beauty with a unique smile allowing her to emphasize the ironic with some sardonic turns. Danes just seems too intelligent and too old (She is the most mature looking and acting 28 year old in Hollywood) to be playing against immature 25 year old Charlie Fox. And her bleached-blonde hair is unattractive.
Yet all the inconsistencies work because the film is essentially intelligent and relatively unadorned. It is interested in the choices young people make (Tristan's initial pursuit of a selfish girlfriend is not suited to him; Shakespeare is bluff and tortured about his cross dressing).
So let the pixie dust or stardust or whatever shine on you and enjoy a shower of impressions not always logical but usually delightful. Things are not always as they appear.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com