Cinderella – Film Review
Cinderella is a fairy tale story most, if not all of us, are familiar with; a girl who lives under the care of her evil stepmother and stepsisters and by some twist of fate, finds herself in the company of a kind, handsome prince.
The 2015 remake does not do much to deviate from the plot we are familiar with. Throughout film history, there have been a few remakes that approached the story from different angles. But in this remake, when it comes to the story line, prepare to expect what you already know, which is not always a bad thing. I was mainly excited to see how the pieces of the story would resonate with the viewer.
Ella (Lily James) lives with both her parents on a large estate in the beautiful countryside. Because she is so in tune with the magic around her, she is able to communicate with the animals and she even befriends some mice.
Soon little Ella learns that her mother (Hayley Atwell) is fatally ill. Not long after that, her father (Ben Chaplin) remarries a haughty woman with two daughters. While her father is on an extended trip, the family receives the bad news that Ella’s father has died.
Distraught and feeling alone, Cinderella is now in the sole care of Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and has to live with her stepsisters Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger). Ella’s new family takes advantage of the fact that her father is no longer around to fire the entire staff. All by herself, Ella has to take care of the home that once belonged to her beloved parents, making her exhausted and filthy. With chimney soot all over her face and clothes, her stepsisters come up with the name Cinderella.
While horse-riding in the woods, she follows a stag who is startled because he is being hunted. This is where she bumps into Kit, the Prince (Richard Madden), and this is where we are taken into the moving love story that has inspired many tales for decades.
I must say, I really enjoyed the graphics and artistic direction of the film. I thought they were magical and the directors really paid attention to detail in this animation. I liked how there are a few details reminiscent of the original cartoon; the way the glass slipper twinkles and how Cinderella’s foot slides perfectly into it, how the metamorphosed animals still slightly resembled their original forms, and the way Cinderella’s dress moved. I was swept away by it all. The film was beautiful to watch. It also helped that Prince Charming is played by Rob Stark from Game of Thrones with his striking blue eyes, dazzling red hair, and perfect, flashing white teeth.
The acting did not let the film down either, and I knew immediately when I saw that Helena Bonham-Carter played Fairy Godmother that they chose their cast well and carefully.
However, unlike other recent Disney movies such as Maleficent or Frozen, I do not think this film really reaches adult audiences in the way I would have liked. I think the way Maleficent and Frozen teach truth, kindness and courage are current and therefore more original. Although full of magic and wonders, they were also relatable and use narrative elements that we would generally experience in this 21st century Earthly realm.
Cinderella seemed out of reach for me. Not because the fantasy is too extravagant; I think part of it had to do with the scriptwriting, with its story-book dialogue and sentiments that did not seem to carry that much depth, and much of the dialogue lacks purpose.
I did not expect for the story to tell me anything new, but in a film, I generally like to see actions or words that make sense. If I am going to pay attention, I would like to do so for a reason.
In other words, when the camera takes a close-up shot and tender words are painfully being whispered over the fireplace, I would like for something to happen that potently proves those sentiments. For me, there were not many ‘aha’ or ‘that’s so true!’ moments.
So, from a first impression, if you are in the mood for magic, I would say Cinderella falls a little short. Because magic is not only found in a glittering dress and an unbelievable story, but in how all the elements of the story and film combine to warm the heart. For me, it simmered, but it did not really pop.