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Before Christmas, I had the extraordinary good fortune to be taken to the preview screening of Tangled, the newest addition to the Disney Princess collection. Tangled is a retelling of the classic Rapunzel fairy tale, complete with yards of flaxen locks, an indomitable tower and a beloved royal family, mourning the loss of their baby princess.

And it’s wonderful. Truly, completely wonderful. An immediate amend must be made to the Princess canon to include Tangled, where it will rest happily and compare beautifully to the likes of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

The screening I went to was in 3D (I’m not really up on this stuff, but I assume it will appear in 2D, as well?) and I freely admit my groans on discovering this were unwarranted. I do still intend to launch half-arsed and poorly structured objurgation on the gratuitous nature of 3D, but in this case, it was used to stunning effect in places. This 3D felt much more like the pretty, floaty effects you got in the IMAX films about fish or space or whatever, rather than the violent bang and crash of flying debris and waving monsters (ahem, Dawn Treader).

And where style has slightly overwhelmed substance lately, Tangled delivers relationships, emotion and suspense, while all the while being genuinely funny and endearing.

Rapunzel herself is superb. She is funny, gawky, complex and an utterly credible character, and both relatable and aspirational in equal measure.

Set in an unnamed fairytale kingdom, we are spared the Shrek nonsense of incongruous pop culture references and school disco soundtrack choices, in favour of breeches, flower garlands and the gorgeous music of Alan Menken.

And just as the dodgy soundtrack is missing, so too is that horrible knowing tone that goes with it. Tangled has the magic of Sleeping Beauty, mixed with the richness of Beauty and the Beast, but feels completely relevant. Tangled does not rely on cameos and pastiches to get cheap laughs, rather it reverently borrows from Princess films past and creates something utterly magical.


Is this the best outfit in which to introduce a strong, female character to legions of young, impressionable fans about to embark on the mystical journey through gender development and personal identity?

I had a big film day not long ago. I went to the cinema to see Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, and then later that day watched the Swedish vampire horror, Let The Right One In. The last time I can think of when I enjoyed two films on first viewing, to such an extent, on the same day, was in 2004, when I went to the cinema twice in one day to see, The Girl Next Door and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That is not to say that this film day was comparable in terms of quality or genre of film, nor is this the place to defend The Girl Next Door or wax lyrical about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, there will be other time for that, but for sheer film-viewing pleasure, that day stands out in my memory, as much as this one will.

And so, the films in hand. I was flabbergasted by both of them. Simply put, A Single Man is beautiful. Not in a he’s-a-designer-it-should-look-nice sort of way, but in a truly special, considered way. The film tells the story of a grieving man, with such delicacy and care that it is immediately draws the viewer into George’s unbearable loneliness and desperation. It is difficult to describe the film in detail without committing cardinal spoiler sins, but the way Ford translates the scenery and cinematography into emotion and narrative is astonishing.

Colin Firth’s performance makes you wonder what he’s been playing at for the last few years. He is devastating in his role, as his grief manifests itself on his face, in his movement, and into every part of his character. Equally, the beautiful Julianne Moore is entrancing and unsettling as his manic best friend, Charley. Their relationship and intimacy feels authentic and adds depth to his interaction with other characters.

Tom Ford’s directing is considered, stylised and stunningly executed. He chose his stars well, both for their acting prowess and their ability to inhabit the beautifully crafted costumes Ford draped them in. It is, in short, a tour de force for Ford. He has approached it with the attention to detail and elegance that he imbues his collections with, and we can only hope that he will be bolstered by his success and create more beautiful films.

For those expecting Sex and the City-style fashion porn, turn around, go to the video shop and rent Devil Wears Prada. The clothes in this film serve as a beautiful contrast to the interior hurt and frayed nature of the characters, and Tom Ford is far too sensitive to use pretty clothes to paper over cracks in his narrative. That said, if you muted the film, it would still be wonderful in a completely different way, such is the beauty of the clothes. The stiff elegance of Colin Firth, the youthful contrivance of Nicholas Hoult, and the glamorous artificiality of Julianne Moore combine to make a breathtakingly lovely style.

So, in summation, watch it once and have your heart broken by the narrative, watch it again and be blinded by the way it looks, and then watch it again, just because.

Let the Right One In is a story for another day. Quite frankly it deserves its own post, I don’t know what I was thinking.