Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Chris Weitz
Based on: the Disney movie, which is in turn based on the fairy tale
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon
Seen on: 16.03.2015
After her mother’s (Hayley Atwell) death, Ella’s (Lily James) father (Ben Chaplin) gets married again. Cinderella’s stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger) move in and change Ella’s life forever. When her father dies a short time later, Ella becomes Cinderella, a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. When the Prince (Richard Madden) invites all unmarried women to a ball to choose his wife, Cinderella would like to go as well, but needs the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) to do so. But there are still some difficulties to be faced until the happy end.
Cinderella brings the aesthetic of the animated Disney version to life and adds its own brand of humor. It is a little long at times and the script isn’t particularly good, but it’s enjoyable.
First and foremost, Cinderella is an extremely pretty film. Pretty people in pretty clothes sit in pretty houses or pretty gardens and it’s all very nice to look at. They took care to stick to Disney’s idea of what Cinderella and her world should look like, but they did their own thing with it. And it’s never better than with Cinderella’s stepmother.
But then again, rare is the film where Cate Blanchett doesn’t surpass everything else in it – and that’s pretty true here as well, even though the script isn’t particularly good with her. There are attempts to give her a backstory and even some motivation apart from being evil, but they never dare to go full Maleficent and it’s a pity. I would love to see Cate Blanchett in that film, directed by Kenneth Branagh and those costumes.
Lily James and Richard Madden are both perfectly serviceable in their roles, but their characters are so incredibly boring, it’s hard to do much with them. I do think that the reading of Cinderella as an abuse survivor who manages to not only get through the abuse but retain her kindness, even if it’s difficult, and not let herself be beaten down by her surroundings, is interesting and this movie certainly comes closer to exploring that aspect than the Disney version. But it’s still not really dealt with in a meaningful way. I’ll be waiting for that version.
The film generally has the problem of focusing a little too much on the bland, well-known and pretty things, rather than the potential that would have lain in a slightly different reading of the story, or even just the potential in the minor characters (that was great). But if you don’t mind the 10 minutes of twirling in the ball gown, or the asinine way they packaged the ending, you’ll still be very much entertained.