Jolie grows horns, goes panto and shows us her inner Sophia Loren in this revisionist fairytale backstory imagining how the witch became so wicked
Her name is a sort of mix of malevolent, magnificent, beneficent and maybe Millicent, the flapper played by Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie. This is another in that emerging post-Wicked genre, the revisionist-backstory fairytale. Angelina Jolie is the wicked witch (who turns out to be named Maleficent) in Sleeping Beauty, who puts a terrible spell on the infant princess, the one about pricking her finger on a spinning wheel. But how did that witch get to be so wicked? Did she start out wicked? Was she, in point of fairytale fact, quite as wicked as all that? This new story explains that maybe if she hadn't had her heart broken by a certain royal someone back in the day, she wouldn't be so mean.
Jolie's face has been digitally tweaked to bring out its edges and planes and her cheekbones are razor sharp. Maleficent has horns (not necessarily evil ones), a dark head-dress that may or may not be physically part of her head, and a sharp, bony ring that makes it look, from a distance, as if she is always smoking a fag. Elle Fanning plays the sweet-natured princess, who is entirely upstaged by Jolie. Her performance has a vinegary touch of panto, something to compare with her role as Alexander the Great's mum in Oliver Stone's Alexander (2004) and Grendel's mum in Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf (2007). I'd forgotten what a fierce screen presence Jolie is: she is becoming the Sophia Loren of our age. Now I want to see her in a grownup film.
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