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REVIEW: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms teaches you how to be ‘unapologetically yourself’

REVIEW: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms teaches you how to be ‘unapologetically yourself’

Forget overpriced mulled wine and tacky stalls: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is the only Winter Wonderland you should head to this holiday season.

The new Disney movie is an adaptation of the short story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and will be an absolute favorite for all ballet and Christmas lovers out there.

A sequel of the original The Nutcracker

Mackenzie Foy as Clara and Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy. | Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

This retelling of the story directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston couldn’t be more festive.

Clara (Mackenzie Foy), a young girl with a penchant for inventions and science, receives a locked egg from her late mother Marie (the protagonist of the original story) right on Christmas Eve. She will need to find the key to crack it open and to embrace her true self.

Aided by her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), she enters a parallel fantasy world, created by her mother.

Three of the four realms there are at war with the fourth one, the former Land of Amusements. Clara meets the regents of the other three realms and bonds with the Sugar Plum Fairy of the Land of Sweets (Keira Knightley), who asks for the girl’s help to defeat the mean Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren).

The movie also stars Jayden Fowora-Knight, Richard E. Grant, Matthew Macfadyen, and Jack Whitehall.

Whitehall plays comic relief Harlequin in his very first speaking role in a Disney movie before portraying a gay character on Jungle Cruise, to be released in 2020.

‘You should be unapologetically yourself’

Omid Djalili and Jack Whitehall as Cavalier and Harlequin. | Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

The Nutcracker isn’t the most memorable Disney movie, but it provides the audience with the right wintery kind of entertainment. And a lesson to keep in mind.

At the European premiere in London, protagonist Mackenzie Foy explained the magic of the movie.

Asked what the movie can teach not only to young girls but also boys and non-binaries, she said: ‘I think that it can show that you can work together with anyone. And individually, you should be unapologetically yourself.’

‘You should trust that inner strength and that beauty that is inside of you and let it out,’ she also told Gay Star News.

‘The Sugar Plum Fairy’s outfit is what drag queens’ dreams are made of’

‘A cake, I play a cake,’ Knightley said of her character. | Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

While the plot might not be the most original take on the story, the choreographies performed by dancing queen Misty Copeland and king Sergei Polunin are dreamy.

Also, and this is a constant for Disney movies, production design and costume design are truly remarkable.

Particularly, the Sugar Plum Fairy’s attire is a real drag dream. Keira Knightley dons cotton candy pink hair and a voluptuous, sheer pink gown which fits perfectly her incredibly silly, twee character. ‘A cake, I play a cake,’ as Knightley herself described the fairy and her outfit.

‘If you’re one Christmas Starbucks cup away from a mental breakdown, sit this one out’

Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger. | Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

I must admit I am not the biggest Disney fan there is, but I can appreciate a good villain. And The Nutcracker and the Four Realms has – spoiler alert! – two. It has also some quite dark moments that younger children and those with fear of rodents might find slightly disturbing.

However, there is just one category of moviegoers who should sit this one out: Christmas haters.

If you’re one prematurely festive Starbucks cup away from a mental breakdown, if you think The Grinch is the story of a sensible monster brainwashed by annoyingly cheerful people, I strongly recommend to hold onto that feeling and go watch the new Halloween, instead.

On the other hand, if you’re already browsing Christmas gifts and in full festive mood, you’re good to go.


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is in cinemas now.

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