Bridge to Terabithia (PG) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Subtract the magic, cruelty and leftist politics from Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, and this is what you're left with. As in Pan's Labyrinth, the story revolves around strange fairy creatures in the woods behind the house, and the way that for children imagination and reality intersect ambiguously. The setting here is modern rural America: a lonely boy from a blue-collar family has his life transformed by the bourgeois, bohemian girl who moves in next door and introduces him to the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia. The invented world is stolid, the logic of its relationship with reality muddled; but what really kills the film is the way it wears its uplift on its sleeve; so that even when death intrudes, you feel you're supposed to be improved rather than moved.