Cinderella

I admit I have a soft spot for fairy tales, Disney and Disney Princesses. Following the recent foray into re-working classic fairy tales with films such as Maleficent and Into The Woods, we now get a more traditional story in the form of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. But can a modern audience be captured by the magic of an overly familiar tale?

Ella (Lily James) is a young, beautiful and kind girl who lives with her father. Years after her mother passed away her father decides to remarry. Unfortunately the woman he chooses to marry, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) treats Ella badly and encourages Ella’s stepsisters Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) to do the same. After her father dies her Stepmother’s behavior worsens. After a ball is arranged at the castle in hopes of finding Prince “Kit” Charming (Richard Madden) a wife, Ella hopes she may be able to attend. But with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters in the way, can Cinderella find a way to go to the ball?

So the big twist with this version of Cinderella is that there is no big twist. There’s no knowing winks to the audience, no post-modern take on events, no cynical asides. It’s actually refreshing to see a fairy tale be told straight and feel sincere instead of feeling like everyone is making fun of the story. The beginning starts off rather slow as we meet Ella’s nauseatingly happy parent. But as soon as tragedy strikes the film soon picks up.

It helps that the film is handsomely made by Kenneth Branagh and the film looks lovely on every level. The costumes, in particular the ones worn by Blanchett are gorgeous. Branagh has also cast the film well with Blanchett stealing most of the scenes as the evil Stepmother. Her daughters also provide great comic relief with their hideous personality and fashion sense. Branagh also has a likeable Ella in Lily James. James’ Ella is kind, likeable and amusingly odd in places-such as when she speaks to animals as though they can understand each other. Ok Fairy Tales aren’t known for their great Feminism values but Ella does gets moments where she quietly defies her stepmother and stands up for what’s right, even if it means sacrificing what she truly wants. Her romance with Madden’s “Kit”, who in this version she meets before the ball, is also rather sweet.

Yes it is ridiculous that they love each other after meeting only once, but as “Kit” later says to his father it’s no more ridiculous than him being expected to pick a bride he’s met for the first time at the ball. And no more ridiculous than a pumpkin and mice being transformed into a carriage and horses. Sometimes you just have to go with the ridiculous, and the magic of a good old fairy tale.

Rating 4/5 – a fine family fairy tale with warmth and humour

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Cinderella

  1. Good review. It’s old-fashioned and simple to a fault, but still pleasant enough to enjoy as it is.

  2. smilingldsgirl

    I really loved it too! I’m so glad they kept it straight on with the original but added a few small details like how much time was spent with the Mom and Dad. Usually they die within the opening narration. I hope all the live action adaptations are as good and not like Maleficent, which I hated.

    • I’m really looking forward to the live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, the cast looks really good. I really didn’t like Maleficent either, glad I’m not the only one.

      • smilingldsgirl

        Cinderella has given me hope for Beauty and the Beast but I’m nervous how the CGI characters will look. I also hope they use the music because that’s what makes B and B special.

      • Yeah I was wondering how the CG will look, but hopefully they’ll make it work. I just presumed they would keep the songs because they are so brilliant. I’m not sure if it will be as good without it. It didn’t really matter for Cinderella but for Beauty and the Beast I would like the songs.

      • smilingldsgirl

        They just haven’t used any of the songs in the other live action movies

      • Thats true. Perhaps they won’t. That will be a shame.

  3. Hi Lauren, great review yo. I would have commented on this sooner, but I never got around to seeing this film until today and wanted to avoid blog reviews until I’d seen it myself. I think we’re on the same page about this one. This film certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to fairy tale adaptations, but it does exactly what a good fairy tale should and it helps that some of the minor changes to the story and characters actually enhance the film.

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