When a fairy tale resonates enough to be told and retold over several centuries, as many of Charles Perrault's folktale adaptations have, one must presume them to hold a certain quality that transcends the typical story. Bluebeard, for instance, being so dark and laced with such innate fears, would perhaps qualify for a modern spin. Times indeed have changed somewhat since Perrault first set word to page, and though Bluebeard has been adapted many times since, there's always room for a new version, that's part of the beauty of a folk tale isn't it? That spin that's added over time?
Director Catherine Briellat's version achieves only in flattening out the depth in the tale, of leaching the fear from the characters, and washing over the cinematic pallet with cheap Hal loween style costumes and reused sets. Yes, yes, I see that perhaps the `staged' quality of the Bluebeard story within a story (two little girls are actually reading the book in the 50s) may imply that it is `constructed' within the mind - a fiction. And yes, I get that the cheap costumes may serve metaphorically to emphasis that riches are only on the surface, and that this `rags' to `riches' tale is a trap. And finally, yes, I see that perhaps the reusing of the sets may imply that the lead - Bluebeard's young wife - really doesn't get anywhere, her journey is stagnated. Alas, the potential for metaphor is bursting from this over-ripe fruit in place of flavor and emotion.
The two tales, that of Bluebeard in its Renaissance Fair setting, and the sisters reading the story in their treasure trove attic, are oddly disconnected. While the four young girls are charming enough to carry a well directed film, here they seem to just be doing there own thing, just with memorized lines. Only the long still shots work in this film. So much so that as images in a story book, a selection of well staged shots might serve Briellat better. When run together as a film, it's a mess.
With all the negativity aside, I've seen worse films. I do think this film has a few things going for it, though perhaps not intentionally so. I was deeply engaged as I watched, trying to piece together something that ultimately was not there, but anytime a film engages you, it stands to some degree above others that do not. Perhaps others may find more here than I, but I can't recommend.