david_bruner’s review published on Letterboxd:
Honestly by the time this was ending, I was wishing it would be longer somehow? I know that the length has been a major complaint, but I loved this world and could have watched the dances and witchcraft for about another hour. The title cards really helped the pace feel snappy for me.
On a visual level, it’s stunning. The dance sequences in particular are everything I didn’t know I actually wanted from dance films and made others I’ve liked seem weak by comparison.
Tilda, Mia, and Dakota are all fantastic, with Mia being the real discovery here. She brought a real life to Sara, and her role as a genuinely good person that just happens to live in the heart of evil (though if the witches are actually totally evil is kinda up for debate but that’s another essay entirely).
The conversation I’m least interested in having is comparing this with the original. They’re both great for different reasons and I think this film was made with the intent to do homage to the original while being its own thing.
This movie does take a while to get off the ground, and I do get why some people are put off by some VFX and the way the soundtrack kicks in sometimes, but that honestly didn’t bother me much at all.
I also found the political/historical context got along well with the story. I think people are getting caught up in thinking that the film is trying to take some big stance when I got more of a vibe that those elements are there to show that no art (or spell) is created in a vacuum. The mess outside and the mess inside (to quote the film directly) are inextricably linked and we become forgetful and vulnerable to evil when we don’t look for those links.
Anyway it’s probably going to be hard to beat this and maybe Paddington 2 for my favorites of the year. I already immediately wanted to watch this again and that’s probably the only film I could say that about this year. I can’t wait to think and write about this more.