MirrorMask (2005, GBR/USA) C-101m. ** D: Dave McKean. Starring Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Dora Bryan, Stephen Fry, Dave McKean. Brilliantly designed film about down-to-earth young teenager Leonidas, whose mother has an impending operation and whose family circus is about to break apart. In this critical situation the artistically gifted girl flees into a dream world that she has created with her drawings, where people wear masks and she must save the life of a queen. Bizarre visuals carry the stamp of writer Neil Gaiman, who penned the screenplay with director McKean. Leonidas is remarkable. Unfortunately, overall bizarreness generally outweighs the plot, so that many viewers will be put off. Still, an interesting, ambitious film that recalls fantasy films like LABYRINTH or even THE WIZARD OF OZ.

© Ron Altman