2 Movies Like Barbie in the Pink Shoes (2013)

Staff & contributors

A harrowing family loss sets off a poetic exploration of grief in this experimental film from Haitian-Canadian filmmaker Miryam Charles. The focus of the movie is Charles’ own cousin, who was found murdered in her Connecticut bedroom in 2008. Rather than let her cousin’s life remain frozen at that point in time, Charles unmoors her film from the cold realities of time and space to suggest new perspectives on the girl’s past and imagine a future that never came. While events like the family’s decision to move to the US are recast as portends of tragedy, there’s also deep generosity in the movie’s ghost story — such as the joyous scenes it depicts from a mother-daughter trip to the family’s home country of Haiti, a trip that never actually took place.

It’s not always easy to discern where or when we’re at in its liberal toggling between time and space, but once Cette Maison establishes its unconventional visual language, everything comes into poignant focus. Given the reality on which it’s based, this is undoubtedly a heartbreaking watch, but the way Charles’ movie evokes the ability of imagination to both deepen and assuage the pain of grief is nothing short of revelatory.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Fantasy

Actor: Ève Duranceau, Nadine Jean

Director: Miryam Charles

Classroom chatter and inside jokes; the rhythmic routine of class, band practice, and communal mealtime; colorful paints and a keen Shakespeare play; paperback books, pages bookmarked with dogears. These are the precious, ordinary wonders of Headfort, a preparatory boarding school in Ireland. 

School Life observes Amanda and John Leyden, who have each taught at Headfort for over four decades. As they both near retirement, so too looms the promise of a tranquil retreat into the countryside—and questions of what they leave behind in their school, their classrooms, and their students. Idyllic and gentle, this documentary offers a brief but meaningful look into the school lives of bright children indelibly influenced by their earliest mentors.

Genre: Documentary

Director: David Rane, Neasa Ní Chianáin

Rating: PG-13