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on 31 December 2007
I love the Ballet Shoes book written by Noel Streatfeild and read it at least once a year. I also have the original dvd based on the original book, which is a charming period drama if a little short.

So it was with bated breath and great expectation that I watched the newly adapted Ballet Shoes on Boxing Day...

I thought the story was fairly true to the book, with the exception of the confusing relationship between Garnie, Theo Dane and John Simpson. In the book, no such relationship was even hinted at as Mr Simpson was married and conducted himself far more as a family friend. Nana and Garnie were very well cast in my view, Richard Griffiths as Great Uncle Matthew was not and didn't seem comfortable in his two cameo appearances. The lodgers however, had far more interaction with the girls in the book than they do in this dramatisation, which was a great shame as much of the girls' characters, such as strengths and weaknesses and aspirations were explored more fully in their relationships with these 'extended family' members.

Some parts of this drama were too modern for me; Garnie never would have given way in front of the girls the way she (Emilia Fox) portrayed. The girls in the book were brought up well and did not need such obvious indicators to gauge that all was not well. The individual selfishness and tendency to tantrums evident in the book had consequences for the girls that taught them valuable life lessons yet this wasn't very clear in the dramatisation and therefore the girls appeared slightly 'brattish' at times, particularly Posy during the illness of Madame Fidolia.

I think the producers of this dramatisation frantically tried to pick up all the individual pieces of the book and tethered them together as best they could. Unfortunately, in doing so, much of the period magic has been lost along with a great deal of the detail, which would have explained better to the viewer the trials and tribulations experienced by the Fossil household and the necessity of working together as a family which pulled them through to win through in the end. I think that because this key point of the story really was missing, the plot took a direction which may have disappointed Ballet Shoes fans as the halfway point of the drama started picking up speed in a great rush towards the end and this haste came at a terrible cost.

Perhaps I would have rated this dramatisation with 'three stars' but I really couldn't do it. I know and love the story so much that I was able to fill in the many blanks and I've given this 'four stars' because the actors were charming, the story mostly true to the book and I enjoyed it in spite of its foibles.
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on 12 January 2008
Like others, I loved the original book and read it to my daughters with great pleasure. We also watched the DVD of the first television adaptation, which was long, amateurish, only intermittently satisfying, and very stuffy...though the actresses playing the 3 girls did a fine job.

The original book was so dense in building the story of the 3 girls and the extended family in the house with Garnie, Nana, and the boarders (each with their own distinct personality), that it seems almost impossible to adapt to the screen -- so it's understandable that any adaptation is going to have to cut some major parts of the book. The good news is that this production is very good looking, and Emma Watson is luminous as Pauline. Set design, costumes and lighting are all much more professional than the first screen version, and the casting is mostly decent.

This latest adaptation gets the basics of the girls right -- with Petrova being the most grounded and least interested in a performing career, Pauline a natural for the stage (but also ambivalent at times) with talent and stage presence, and Posy with the most raw talent as a dancer. The story is nicely set up at the start, as Gum is shown dropping off the 3 girls while in the midst of numerous travels...and then Gum reappears toward the end, revisiting the house as it is going to be sold and seeing "his girls" all grown up and heading in different directions.

However, the beauty of the interaction and growth of these 3 wonderful girls is mostly lost in this translation of the book. In particular, Petrova gets short shrift, while Posy mostly comes across a brat. This movie does use the vows the girls make together as a central theme, but the viewer then mostly sees Pauline's ascent to success, while the others have bit roles.

The boarders are relegated to extremely marginal roles, with the exception of Mr. Simpson (Marc Warren), the garage owner, whose role has been rewritten to provide a romantic twist to the story. For long time fans of the book, this will be the most unsatisfying decision, because it does nothing more than take time away from what should be the focal point of this movie -- the three girls. Not to mention that Mr. Simpson has had all the life drained out of him by the way his role has been re-written, and Warren's wooden acting doesn't help.

I am not normally a purist about movie adaptations of books that take liberties, if something new and interesting is created that can attract a broader audience, or make the book resonate on the screen better, but nothing like that is done here. If anything, the story is even more confusing as a result of the liberties taken with the book.

Also, dancing and the aesthetics of dance are given much less play in this adaptation relative to the book (and the first screen adaptation). The focus has shifted more generally to the stage, since much of this movie is a vehicle for Emma Watson (who is not a dancer). The few dance sequences that are shown (mostly Posey by herself, and a very attractive Russian studio of ballerinas toward the end) look very good, but there is not a lot of dance in this version of Ballet Shoes.

Ultimately, this production is a big mess as far as storytelling goes... though it's a very beautiful mess, and fans of the book will likely excuse the many flaws to see another version, and be reminded of one of their favorite stories. I wonder how much sense this adaptation would make to someone who never read the book, though -- unlike the first adaptation, this version has even more abrupt transitions and choppy storytelling, and mostly gets by on the beauty of the individual set pieces...and Emma Watson.
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on 13 January 2008
I am afraid to say I was deprived of the Ballet Shoes book as a child, and I've never had the time to read it, so I'm basing my review solely on this production itself.

Firstly, the concept is lovely. Three girls wanting to put their names in the history books, and by using their talents, manage to put money together to look after their guardian. It's a truly delightful story, and the casting was excellent. I was eager to see Emma Watson in her first role outside Harry Potter, and had preconceptions of what she was going to be like. However, I was pleasantly surprised by her acting, and was not at all Hermione-ish as I expected. The other two girls were delightful too. Yasmin Paige outshone both as the mechanical enthusiast Petrova Fossil, and Lucy Boynton played the wonderfully cheeky Posy.

All the adult characters were well cast, and my two cousins (aged 12 and 9) loved every moment of it. Both of them could easily relate to the girls, and the older members of my family loved the more mature storyline of Mr. Simpson and Sylvia Brown.

All in all, this is an enchanting story and the production itself is wonderful. I'm sure people of all ages, and especially young girls, will enjoy this film very much.
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on 11 January 2008
This is a charming beautifully acted drama based on one of my favourite childrens book. The 1930s period is beautifully evoked. The costumes and props seemed very in keeping with the 1930s. The three main actresses seemed perfectly cast and all the supporting cast seemed right for their parts. Emilia Fox was a sensitive and touching Sylvia, Emma Watson shows us that she is developing into a fine actress . My one slight reservation is that The ending was slightly changed introducing a love interest for Sylvia ( which i feel was for the benefit of the modern audience). All in all a perfect fire side family treat for all ages ( my 15 year old daughter who is also a fan of the book loved it)A real feel good film.
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on 2 January 2008
I too have known and loved Ballet Shoes for many years and watched the film with some reservations.Obviously the story was very cut and though the basics were there a lot of episodes were left out.The part were Pauline was made to miss a performance of Alice did not make the point Pauline had to learn,nobody is irreplacable, also Winifred and Pauline were good friends.I think the romance was unecessary the story did not need it and it would not fit in with what was to happen next.If you enjoyed the film read the book it is much better!
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on 27 January 2008
This is a strange one to comment on because the cast do a good job and the story holds up well but there are a few moments when two of the three leads turn way out of character and act differently in an unpleasant way. I don't know if that's down to editing or a poor script but it spoilt this and made Pauline and Posy a pair of spoilt brats with no feelings but for themselves. The supporting cast was very good but their roles were different at times to the book which again made me feel uneasy and almost cheated while watching this. Why would the writers have to change things? It didn't make it better and it didn't need doing.
No extras is unforgivable these days!
Ballet Shoes is nice enough to be worth seeing but it just doesn't work that well for me because of the self made problems. I'll go back to the book.
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on 13 April 2008
I am in ther Royal Acaedmy of Dance at the Henley College theater, and I do 15 hours a weekand I am very fond of dance and ballet so this movie was abouslotly amazing and enjoyable!
It is about three little girls who grew up toegther in an old house and they were ophans or their parents had left them and they are quite poor so they are advisting rent bedrooms for sale for money and one lady is a proper ballet dancer and notices the girls talent and sends them along to the Royal Ballet school. Over a period of time they are sone doing performances on stage and they grow up together as ballet dancers. In the film there are twista ands turns and unexpected things. I saw this on tv and it was so good I am giong to buy it!!!!!!!
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VINE VOICEon 8 February 2008
Ballet Shoes (based on the book of the same name) is set in 1930's London, and follows the inspirational story of three young girls raised as sisters, each with their own separate dreams to fulfil. I read Ballet Shoes, when I was younger and despite it being the complete opposite to what I normally would read, I found it to be a fantastic book. So I was eager to see this adaptation on dvd (after missing the first showing on TV.) Unfortunately I have to say that I've been left slightly (but not overly) disappointed.

The running time of Ballet Shoes is a misable 83 minutes so naturally a lot from the book has been missed, but also changed unnecessarily. For the casting, I'm not sure about Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger) playing the part of Pauline. Don't get me wrong she is stunningly attractive and an exceptionally good actress, fantastic in the Harry Potter films, it's just...she doesn't seem entirely right for the part and makes the character of Pauline seem a bit empty and shallow. But to tell you the truth I wasn't impressed with the performance from Emilia Fox or Victoria Wood either. Maybe my expectations were too high. The characters in the book were three-dimensional and likeable and I guess that I was expecting the same from the film. As another reviewer has already rightfully mentioned, there are no special features or extras on the dvd. One of the reasons I was eager for the dvd was to see the special features. I don't know what I was expecting to see...but something.

But don't despair, as it is still a excellent film, and still represents a inspired concept that keeps you interested and entertained, Ballet Shoes has been professionally done with correct period costumes and sets, so if you're a fan of the book or never even knew there was a book called Ballet Shoes, I doubt you'll be disappointed with the film. I did enjoy it and am glad I purchased it and I'm sure you will be too.
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on 3 January 2008
When I heard that Ballet Shoes was being made into a film I was really excited. But once I heard that Emma Watson was to take one of the leads I was very disappointed. She was (and looked) far too old for the part, and I got the impression she was just playing herself. I was also very disappointed to hear that Lucy Boynton was to play Posy when she had no ballet experience what-so-ever. In fact that had to use a dance double - what was the point?? Although she was expectable I thought it was a shame they couldn't find a true ballet prodigy to support. Yasmin Paige, who played Petrova, was fantastic! I was so impressed by her. Victoria Wood and the rest of the actors (including Marc Warren and Emilia Fox) were also very refreshing and enjoyable to watch.

On the whole I would recommend this as a family film which most people can enjoy. And (as much as it pains me to say after misjudged casting) I did very much enjoy it and will be buying it!!
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on 16 May 2014
I always loved the book ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfeild, so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a made-for-TV film of less than 90 minutes . The story is about three adopted sisters who are determined to make their mark on the world: Pauline as an actress, Petrova as a pilot, and Posy as a dancer. Emma Watson (best known as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies) plays Pauline, the eldest of the Fossil children. There were other well-known faces in this film, including Victoria Wood who wasn’t entirely convincing as Nana.

Although, inevitably, a fair amount of the book was condensed or cut out, the storyline mostly stuck to what’s in the book; the three sisters were very good, with Posy outstanding as a promising ballet dancer. I wasn’t too impressed at a light romance being thrown in at the end – decidedly NOT in the book! – but that kind of thing appears to be compulsory, even in children’s films these days.

Still, worth watching for a light evening’s entertainment. The sets and atmosphere of London in the 1940s were very realistic.
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