It can be said that everyone knows this story of the brothers Grimm, two children abandoned by their parents in the forest find their salvation in a house made of sweets and a lovely old lady and, shortly after, discover that she is a witch, who was putting on weight João to eat it. After so many cinematic adaptations made, it would be just one more, right?
As the title itself indicates, Maria is the real highlight of the time. Played by actress Sophia Lillis (It – A Thing, I’m Not Okay With This), the character begins by narrating her point of view after the scary introduction.
In a hunger-stricken village, the scene begins with the protagonist getting ready for a job interview at the home of an elderly nobleman and is the first scene that tests the trials of being a woman, and in a socially inferior position, in which the nobleman asks an indiscreet question.
Maria refuses to submit to the man and returns home unemployed to her mother’s discontent. With no way to feed the children, in a frightening dialogue, the matriarch sends the children away, advising the daughter to look for a place where they could live less miserably.
Strange things happen until they arrive at the house of Holda, the witch, who is not made of candy in this version. Her frightening appearance does not go unnoticed by the young woman, but the hunger of both brothers speaks louder than common sense and, just as they peer out the window, they see a banquet as if they were waiting for them, then giving in to temptation.
The children stay with the witch and, while João helps with small external tasks – which he is unable to do -, Holda approaches Maria in a more subtle way, with the promise of awakening the power that the young woman possesses.
With a 63% approval rating, the film pleases on the one hand and disappoints on the other. The chosen colors help to give a dark touch to the work and soundtrack, although sometimes it sounds a little psychedelic, in a way, it matches the film.
It is the aesthetics, in addition to the graphic elements, that draw the attention of the critic, in which everything is well designed for the moment and visually pleasing. One, in fact, for the elements that make up the subgenre, such as the dark forest, the isolation of the characters, the fear of the unknown, mysterious beings and people with hidden powers.
But if on the one hand the aesthetics are admirable, the script is no longer so pleasing. It is a narrative that seems to promise a lot, but in the end, it does not impress. And what can be taken into consideration is the deconstruction of the sister’s image as loving and zealous – the love that Maria has for her brother is undeniable, but she is a girl who is blooming for adulthood, who wants to have her own life and independence and knows that, for his emancipation, he cannot create João.
And, above all, the message behind feminism and the injustice women are subjected to. It’s about getting out of complacency, risking something new, and better than accepting mediocre fate.
The film is still in theaters. Check out the trailer below:
Title: Maria e João: The Witches’ Tale (Original: Gretel and Hansel) Director: Oz Perkins Cast: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Sammy Leakey Year of production: 2020 Duration: 87 minutes Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Terror Screenplay: Rob Hayes Color: Colored Origin: EU Classification : 14 yearsProduction: Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones