Writer-director (and co-editor) Sèbastien Laudenbach strives and largely succeeds in his effort to produce a finished animated film with the vivacity and evocative power of a rough sketchbook. His bloodily, brutally faithful adaptation of the Brothers Grimm story is fashioned from swaths and blotches of color, pulsing outlines of people, overlapping layers of landscape, the barest suggestions of trees, houses, etc. The resultant visuals sometimes feel chaotic — the 76-minute runtime is probably just right — but rarely accidental. They add to rather than distract from the blunt power of the story, which concerns a girl so pure that the devil can’t touch her even after Dad trades her for a river of gold. (“Pure” is not to be confused here with “delicate” or “proper” — she’s not above pissing on the barking hounds who keep her prisoner in an apple tree.) So the devil takes the handmost. Happily, a world with devils is also a world with angels, even if they tend to appear only when our heroine is extremely in extremis. (2016)
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