Ballet Shoes (review)

Ah, Harry Potter fans can rejoice once again: I don’t know why it’s coming as such as a relief to discover that those kids can act and look to have a career beyond the end of the adventures of the boy wizard, but it is. We’ve already seen Daniel Radcliffe stretch himself and show off his chops in several other venues, and now here we have Emma Watson, aka Hermione Granger, growing up nicely as both a young woman and as an actor. She stars in this new BBC adaptation of the beloved novel by Noel Streatfield, a lovely, honest film about the hopes and dreams of, well, young women seemingly very like Watson herself. In 1930s London, a trio of sisters — the adopted children of the eccentric (and absent) Professor Brown (Richard Giffiths: The History Boys) — struggle to balance their own desires for creative adventures of their own with the need to keep their precarious household together. Raised by Brown’s niece (Emilia Fox: The Pianist), the sisters are surrounded by an oddball collection of lodgers taken on to help stretch the family budget — the cast is extraordinary, featuring names well known to fans of British drama: Harriet Walter, Marc Warren, Gemma Jones, Dame Eileen Atkins — from whom they all take many sincere lessons about life and following one’s dreams. But it’s the charm of the trio of sisters that makes this truly special: Pauline (Watson), who wants to be an actress; Petrova (Yasmin Paige, who stars in the recent Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures), who longs to be an aviator; and Posy (Lucy Boynton, Meg in the recent Sense & Sensibility), who loves ballet. This is a movie to cherish, and would be even if it weren’t such a rare treat to see such a wonderful movie about girls and their ambitions.

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