It was my birthday yesterday and because of that my husband could not say no to me and I got to go to the movies! *Yay* Not only did I get to pick the movie, but it could also be a movie that he would never normally agree to see with me (it’s my birthday after all) so I decided I wanted to see the new Disney adaptation of Cinderella.
I must preface this review by telling you that I am notoriously bad at writing reviews and also that I LOVE fairytales. Whenever a fairytale movie is made, I want to see it. There is something about them that appeal to me…give me fairy godmothers, handsome princes and big poofy dresses and I am in heaven. But I also like to see the adaptations where a deeper meaning is brought out, where the heroine is a bit gritty and the story a little darker, these too make me happy. As much as I am a big believer in strong independent women, there is also the little girl in me who wants to be swept off her feet.
With the recent retellings of Snow White (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Sleeping Beauty (Maleficent), I went into this movie expecting a different take on the traditional story, I expected a Cinderella with a bit of guts and spunk. In fact, when I walked into the cinema and saw some young children waiting to watch the film, I worried for them, thinking that perhaps this wasn’t the sort of Cinderella film they should see.
But I needn’t have worried. This adaptation sticks pretty much to the traditional story and once I got my head around that, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I was expecting to see, it wasn’t want I wanted to see, but for a traditional retelling, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
If I had to describe this movie in three words they would be lavish, opulent and sumptuous. The scenery is absolutely picturesque, full of rich, beautiful colours and breathtaking vistas. The sets are incredibly lush and the palace is everything a princess could dream of (the chandeliers OMG!). The costumes are decadent with bright colours and fabulous designs (oh, to be the costume designer on this film!). Visually, this film is a feast for the eyes and the cinematography is wonderful.
As for the film itself, there is nothing notably new. Lily James (Downton Abbey) plays Cinderella and she does a fair job of it, although I found her a little too sweet at times. Her wide-eyed wonder and innocence was a little far-reaching, but she does embody the quintessential Disney Princess. I would have liked her to get a little mad, at least once, with maybe a tantrum thrown in just to take the shine off her practically perfect princess routine. And I can’t write this review without mentioning the furore surrounding her slim figure in this film. There has been a bit a of thing about how tiny her waist is and I tend to agree with her arguments that although she has a naturally slim waist, with the added corset and large skirt it does have an optical illusion effect. I also want to add that we, as a society, need to stop judging people by their outward appearance, whether they are too big or too small.
Prince Charming or Kit is played by Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and he is delightful. I love the relationship that he had with his father and that he was torn between obeying his father’s wishes and following his own heart. It is refreshing to see a father/son relationship that is based on mutual respect and love.
My most favourite performance had to be Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit) as the Stepmother. I love Cate and think that she is a phenomenal actress. She is deliciously nasty in this film and it endeared her to me even more. I love that she owned her nastiness, and set against Lily James’ too sweet Ella, it was a fabulous contrast. She was unapologetic in her desires and ruthless about achieving them. She is also stunning in this film and her costumes are a wonder. I think she may have stolen the show for me.
Another fabulous performance was by Helena Bonham Carter (Great Expectations), who plays a wonderful villain (in Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland to name two) but in this instance is a wonderful fairy godmother. She owns this role and brings a bit of spunk to the film. I didn’t like the use of the “Bippity Bobbity Boo” magic words, but apart from that, she was fantastic.
Other notable performances were from the Stepsisters. I did spend all of the film trying to place the actress who played Drizella (who incidentally is Sophia McShera from Downton Abbey,the other actress is Holliday Grainger (Great Expectations)), but I loved their performances. They were just the right amount of vapid and spoiled and, OMG!, their costumes! I can’t tell you how much fun it would have been to be the costume designer!
I can’t finish this review without mentioning Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones) who plays the Captain. He was a delightful character and it takes a special person to carry off those tights with such aplomb. And of course, Alex Macqueen was great as the Royal Crier.
The CGI on this film was also done really well and added, rather than subtracted from the film. The mice, lizards and goose were good comic relief without being too over the top.
The most poignant part of the film is at the end when Prince Charming finally tracks down Cinderella and finds her to be nothing more than a servant girl. She comes to him as she is and asks him if he can still be happy with her knowing that she has no title or lands. As the narrater says, there was no magic or fairy godmother to help her this time and the biggest risk we take is to be seen as we really are. I think that is the perfect message to take away from this film. It takes a lot of courage to allow others to see the real person inside of us without the masks and the smoke and mirrors that we all try to use. We live in a world that constantly tells us we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, tough enough, rich enough and we all try, in some small way, to portray ourselves as more. Maybe we can take a leaf out of Cinderella’s book and not be afraid to be who we really are.
So, in conclusion, I enjoyed the film. It is not a masterpiece, it does not deal with the tough issues, but it is fun and magical and a delight to watch. Admittedly it won’t be everyones cup of tea, but if you are looking for a bit of lighthearted entertainment that will make you feel good and give you an escape from the real world for a while, then I recommend it.