Forgive me for assuming, but I would like to think everyone knows the story of Cinderella. No matter what age you are, you have seen some type of version of the story where every dream for a sweet, servant girl comes true. Whether it’s Walt Disney’s classic animated film from 1950 or Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version—-not the one with Whitney Houston and Brandy. My God not that one. However, if those do not sound familiar then you probably enjoyed Drew Barrymore’s take in Ever After and Hilary Duff’s in A Cinderella Story which would make you a very rare breed.
So why bring this imitable tale back in 2015?
Well I cannot really answer that because I have no idea. Cinderella is innocent, harmless fun for families, but offers no surprises along the way. It flawlessly goes through the motions—happily ever after. If it ain’t broke then why fix it right?
All of your favorites are here. The Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter)? Check. Evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her obnoxious daughters? Check. Mouses, pumpkins, and slippers? Check. Prince Charming (Richard Madden)? Check. One of the first things you will notice is how delightfully wicked Blanchett is as the stepmother. It is a welcome change of pace for her after her last year’s Oscar win for Blue Jasmine. Nevertheless, this movie belongs to Cinderella herself, Lily James. She captures the true essence of the titled character with not just her beauty and blonde hair, but her naturalness at being adoring and gracious. The movie’s ability to sweep you up in to its whimsical world comes from her genuinely enchanting performance.
Director Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado About Nothing, Thor) keeps everything squeaky clean (which I’m sure that’s how Disney demands it) by taking absolutely no risks. Don’t get me wrong, there is no need for this version to be dark or twisted. This Cinderella is not suppose to be that and should not. It simply plays it too conservative in the comfort of its own Mickey Mouse home. Sadly, my dream of the film being original while keeping the traditional parts alive did not come true.
And yet, Branagh makes the film flourish with splendor and color. His deep-rooted background with Shakespeare soaks through every scene and unquestionably provides a romance in it’s storytelling. No matter how hard you try, you cannot help but feel emerged in the magic.