An instant classic! While McCully was inspired by the daredevil George Blondin who first crossed Niagara Falls on a wire in 1859, O’Hanlon was obsessed by wire walking since Philippe Petit’s 1974 walk between The Twin Towers (whose destruction prompted the first Tribeca Film Festival). Both the writer and the high wire artiste were on the red carpet at this Tribeca premiere that wonderfully spotlights a girl on the wire.
A hundred years ago, the titular girl (up-and-coming star Dixie Egerickx) takes one look at Bellini (Jean-Marc Desmond) seeming to walk on air and she becomes obsessed with walking up there. He’s a sad new renter in the colorful French boarding house of Madame Gâteau (the celebrated Dickensian character actress Miriam Margolyes), now Mirette’s affectionate grandmother. Expanding on the Caldecott Award-winning book, the circus, music hall and theater players are distinctive guests here — Pierrot, mime, clown, harlequin, ventriloquist, acrobat, knife thrower, strongman, showgirls, and a chanteuse (Shola Adewusi) leading their catchy theme song. (All the hummable music is by Art Lewy.) Mirette tries to walk on Bellini’s wire in the backyard on her own– and falls. And then walks a few steps before she falls again, but her determination and joy on the wire convinces Bellini to help develop her talent, warning her: “You’ll never be happy again on the ground.” (The actors trained for over eight months.)
Though structured to fit into a half-hour “TV special” format that O’Hanlon is now developing into a feature, this is a flamboyantly full-fledged production with marvelous set design and costumes. So when the famous agent Charlie Meyer (the delightfully theatrical Tom Conti) recognizes the wire walker as used-to-be internationally famous, he stages a grand comeback, filmed outdoors in the medieval southwestern French town of Périgueux (where McCully was a costumed extra). Mirette climactically helps her teacher: “I am a wire walker too!” I look forward to the opportunity to introduce this magically epic short to my grandson.Nora Lee Mandel
The magical world of adults seen through the eyes of a child have shaped many a family film, the things they see and hear made colorful in the fertile soil of young imagination. So it is with Helen O’Hanlon‘s spritely short film Mirette, a charming bit of old school fantasy that harkens to days gone by with an endearing tale of inspiration and wonder.
Based on the book series by Emily Arnold McCully, O’Hanlon’s adaptation is pretty faithful to the original, bringing to life the unique and colorful story of teacher and student with a gentle touch. Feeling a lot like a live-action musical from the late 1960s – minus the songs – the 28-minute film is a simple tale of finding a dream for one and holding on to it for another. It has no villain and is devoid of conflict, being simply a story of how a little girl who seems invisible to the world can suddenly lift everyone up to the stars. There is a storybook quality to it yes, though is never so fanciful it doesn’t feel authentic. That’s probably O’Hanlon’s greatest achievement, able to capture the magic of the girl’s imagination while keeping it grounded in the world she lives in.
While it embraces a breezy playful tone with amusing characters – the living room of the boardinghouse is always full of costumed performers working their shticks – there is a broader more weighted message that even the youngest of viewers should catch. Little Mirette is quintessential, innocent and hardworking, longing for a chance to bloom and Dixie Egerickx embodies this spirit well, on screen for most of the film. She shares it with some notable names, including the legendary Tom Conti and Miriam Margolyes, both who give Mirette a classic stage vibe.
Still making waves in festivals, this little gem is a delightful catch, skipping grand visual effects and sentimental overtures for a sweet and believable fantasy the whole family can enjoy.
Click on the link below to read the review in full!David Duprey
“Mirette is the perfect feel good movie!”
What did you want to become when you were younger? A firefighter? Doctor? Journalist? Well, if you would ask that same question to Mirette, she would say a high-wire walker. It’s all about that little girl in Mirette, the new Helen O’Hanlon film that’s based on the book Mirette on the High Wire, written by Emily Arnold McCully. Just like the book, the movie tells a very open, funny and spontaneous story. With wonderful performances, Mirette is a movie you need to put on your “movies to-watch” list.
You haven’t seen the first shot of the movie but yet thanks to the music you already know that the film will be a very easy going, lively and playful film. It’s the kind of music that will cheer you up every time you hear it. When it comes with an amazing cinematography, you won’t be able to keep your eyes off the screen for one single second. We came out of the screening with a big smile and we’re sure you will experience the exact same thing. Of course, it’s not only the combination between wonderful music and very colourful cinematography that gives you a happy feeling ; it’s also the spot-on acting performance. We’re absolutely sure that we’ll see more from Dixie Egerickx (Genius, The Watcher in the Woods) because she’s superb as the young, naïve girl who’s dreaming big. From the second BAFTA Award winner Miriam Margolyes (Bucket, The Age of Innocence) pops up, the movie lifts up even more. As always she add an amusing and comedy effect to this movie. We don’t know if Jean-Marc Desmond (Boomerang, Rembrandt Bugatti Renaissant) can walk the high wire or not. However, he makes it seems very easy in his role as Bellini.
We’re absolutely sure that we’ll see more from Dixie Egerickx because she’s superb as the young, naïve girl who’s dreaming big.
Do you want to see a movie that will cheer you up in no time? Then go to a screening of Mirette the first chance you get. You will be transported into a new world. Very vibrant, very open and very colourful. Filled with a wonderful soundtrack and great performance, Mirette is the perfect feel good movie.Liselotte Vanophem
Influences can come in all shapes and sizes and, sometimes, even when you think the path of your life is set, something can point you in a completely different direction.
At Meme’s place, played by the wonderful Miriam Margolyes (Early Man, Harry Potter), every performer in Paris has a place. From jugglers to singers to ventriloquists, they all have a drink and a place to stay.Amongst this hubbub is Mirette, played by the extraordinarily talented Dixie Egerickx (Genius (TV), The Little Stranger), who toils peeling potatoes and mopping floors.
That is until Jean-Marc Desmond (Boomerang, Bye Bye Blondie) arrives and begins practising his wire walking in the back-yard. For Desmond is the great Bellini, the walker who once went across Niagara Falls, stopping halfway to make an omelette. Mirette is enticed by this extraordinary talent and, because Bellini won’t teach her, she begins to teach herself how to be a wirewalker. Eventually Bellini agrees to help after seeing how far she has got on her own. But, Bellini has a secret, he’s been off-the-grid for a while and, when the agent Tom Conti (Paddington 2, Shirley Valentine) reveals his secret, it isn’t clear if Bellini is helping Mirette, or Mirette is helping Bellini.
Writer and director Helen O’Hanlon (How To Be A Villain) has created a wonderful second short film based on Emily Arnold McCully’s acclaimed children’s book, full of joy and hope and with a fantastic performance from Egerickx at its heart. Sure, Margolyes is criminally underused and it’s always a delight to see Conti on screen so more of him wouldn’t have gone amiss. But this is nit-picking, Mirette is a beautiful film.
Paris of old looks great on screen and Meme’s place looks a fantastic bohemian place to stay, exactly the sort of place these characters would be.
I’m sure we’re going to see more of Both Egerickx and O’Hanlon and that, by a long way, is no bad thing.OC Movies
Based on the award-winning picture book Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully, this beautifully crafted short from
writer-director Helen O’Hanlon is a heart-warming gem.
Set in fin de siècle Paris – lovingly captured in all its sepia-tinged gas-lit glory by DP Mark Stubbs – it’s the story of ten-year-old Mirette whose life is changed when a mysterious stranger pitches up at her grand-mother’s boarding house, a raffish, amiable menagerie of artists, musicians and actors. When Mirette discovers that the stranger, known as Bellini, is a tightrope walker she’s spellbound, and entreats him to teach her the secrets of his daredevil art. Closely guarding a dark secret (as is the way of these things) Bellini is reluctant at first but soon succumbs to Mirette’s persistence and irrepressible charm offensive.
What follows is a winsome, Rocky-style training montage that leads to an uplifting, edge-of-the-seat finale high above the streets
of the city.
Tom Conti and Miriam Margolyes are the big names in the cast, but it’s Dixie Egerickx in the title role who takes the acting honours. With only a handful of credits to her name, she turns in a poised, utterly captivating performance made all the more remarkable by the fact that, before Mirette, she’d had as much experience as a wire-walker as she had as a lion tamer. Hers is a name to watch, even if you can’t spell it. And in the unlikely event she doesn’t become a movie star, she’s got a bright future in the circus.Simon Braund
“How many breathtaking, heartbreaking moments can you cram into a half-hour short? See Mirette and you’ll find out.
Featuring an angelic young actress (Dixie Egerickx) and a wonderful cameo by Tom Conti.
I wanted more.”
Mirette is a new short feature based upon an award-winning children’s picture book, Mirette on the High Wire. Directed by Helen O’Hanlon, this is a beautiful looking film with a sweet heart and some big name actors. It is set about 100 years ago in a Parisian boarding house run by Mémé Gateaux, played by the ever amiable Miriam Margoyles. Her ten-year-old grand-daughter Mirette works in the laundry. Many people from the entertainment world come to stay at the boarding house, and when once-famous high-wire walker Bellini (Jean-Marc Desmond) comes to stay, Mirette is fascinated by the art of wire walking and begs Bellini to teach her.
Although the tale is seemingly simple, there are a number of deeper themes interwoven – friendship, aspiration, overcoming fear and more. All are delicately balanced with humour and warmth of emotion, making the characters easy to relate to. Young Dixie Egerickx is a cinematographer’s delight – the sort of young actor I could hope to see much more of. British veteran Tom Conti lends a vaudeville feel with his heavily-accented character of Charlie Meyer. The look of the film is particularly impressive – the misty edged romanticism of films like Picnic at Hanging Rock combine with moments reminiscent of the frivolity and theatricality of the Belle Epoque and Parisian theatre.
O’Hanlon, whose previous film How to be a Villain, won the jury directing award at the Bermuda International Film Festival, shows immense talent and sensitivity as a director. I look forward to her first full-length feature film.Sharon Hurst