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Hop-o’-My-Thumb

A grim take on Charles Perrault's dark fairy tale about a diminutive boy deserted by his parents who compensates for his stature with heightened intelligence.

Cast:
With: Ilian Calabert, Rachel Arditi, Adrien de Van, Denis Lavant, Valerie Dashwood, Thomas Momplot, Orfeo Campanella, Lilian Dugois.

“Grim” is the word that best describes French helmer Marina de Van’s take on “Hop-o’-My-Thumb,” Charles Perrault’s dark fairy tale about a diminutive boy deserted by his parents who compensates for his stature with heightened intelligence. Produced by the team behind Catherine Breillat’s Perrault adaptations “Bluebeard” and “Sleeping Beauty,” this telepic has a similarly tight budget and generic period look (mainly invoked by costumes) while again fusing a femme helmer’s sensibilities — here including flesh, violence and personality transfer — with an age-old morality tale. Too grisly for children, “Thumb” should hop to a select few fests.

Story’s been filmed before in Gaul, including as a 2001 kid pic by Olivier Dahan (“La Vie en rose”). De Van (“In My Skin”) brings an earthy matter-of-factness to the brutal tale of the titular boy (Ilian Calabert, alright), who, with his four older brothers — down from Perrault’s six — has to face a human-eating ogre (Denis Lavant, hamming it up) after their dirt-poor and (unconvincingly) desperate folks (Rachel Arditi, Adrien de Van) have abandoned them in the woods. Gliding HD lensing is crisp, special effects low-key, and the score’s darker undercurrents just right.

Hop-o'-My-Thumb

France

Production: A Flach Film production, in association with Arte France. (International sales: Pyramide Intl., Paris.) Produced by Jean-Francois Lepetit, Sylvette Frydman. Directed by Marina de Van. Screenplay, Bertrand Santini, de Van.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Vincent Mathias; editor, Mike Fromentin; music, Alexei Aigui; production designer, Francois-Renaud Labarthe; costume designer, Marielle Robaut. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 3, 2011. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Ilian Calabert, Rachel Arditi, Adrien de Van, Denis Lavant, Valerie Dashwood, Thomas Momplot, Orfeo Campanella, Lilian Dugois.

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