By Daniel Barnes
*Opens Friday, September 15, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.
In this woozy adaptation of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, a young girl is sold to the devil by her poor father in exchange for a river of gold. With sexy results!
She gets protected by her cleanliness and leaves her family for the forest, where she meets a water goddess and marries a prince, but the devil’s persistent schemes eventually drive them apart.
It always kills me to lambaste a hand-animated passion project. However, French director Laudenbach’s half-drawn watercolor images mostly left me unmoved. Even at a mere 76 minutes, the muddy pacing, vague designs and muted emotions of The Girl Without Hands make it a bit of a chore.
To its credit, the film feels like a more faithful version of the Grimm Brothers than we usually get from the edge-sanding Disney adaptations. Ultimately, though, the film cares more about splashing around in a pool of hippy-dippy aloofness than developing strong characters.