“Have courage and be kind.” That is the message of the latest Disney film, a live action adaptation of Cinderella. While this time of year is usually littered with bland sci-fi films and rom-coms, Cinderella is both courageous and kind and is destined to breathe life into this dull movie season!
Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing) with a screenplay by Chris Weitz (Twilight’s New Moon, The Golden Compass), the film stays true to the original Charles Perrault fairytale and also pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney classic. Cinderella tells the story of a girl named Ella, who lost her mother as a young child. Ella’s father later remarries during Ella’s teenage years, bringing not only a stepmother into the household but her two daughters as well. Just as Ella is adjusting to her new family life, her father is killed. Ella’s role quickly changes, as she becomes her stepmother’s servant. Things begin looking up for Ella as she meets a prince one day while riding horseback through the woods. With the help of her fairy godmother, Ella makes her way to the royal ball where she meets the prince again. While most of us are all too familiar with the classic Cinderella storyline, I will save the spoilers for a later date. Needless to say, however, the film is a charming and heartwarming fairytale with a wonderfully happy ending.
The cast is also nothing short of wonderful. Lilly James (Downton Abbey) is brilliant as Cinderella. She brings a sense of innocence and class to an otherwise one-dimensional character. Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd, Harry Potter), who is well known for her ability to play the kooky villainess, dons a white ball gown as Cinderella’s fairy godmother. She shines per usual and it is a treat to see her as the hero of a film. The beautiful Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings, Blue Jasmine) portrays Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and does so with both poise and ease. Like her costar, James, she adds even more dimension to a simple and previously undefined character. There is even a poignant scene in which Blanchett’s character explains to Cinderella why she is so evil and for a brief moment in time Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine almost wins the sympathy from the audience. Holliday Grainger (Anna Karenina) and Sophie McShera (ABC’s Galavant) serve as an excellent comedic duo, portraying Cinderella’s evil yet stupid stepsisters. While Cinderella is certainly not the prince’s story, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) makes for a handsome prince and it is easy to see why Cinderella falls for his character. Where the prince’s flat personality falls short, Madden’s dreamy looks and charisma certainly compensate!
Disney fans will also be happy to know that there is an adorable Frozen short before the film, so if you aren’t a fan of fairytales but enjoy animation, the short is definitely worth checking out! The film also boasts a noteworthy soundtrack, with a score by Patrick Doyle and a beautiful rendition of “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” in the closing credits.
Bottom line: Cinderella is a treat for the whole family and is a nod to the classic Disney fairytales we all grew up with. It’s simple yet engaging, romantic and visually stunning. I highly recommend it!
Mallory Delchamp is a writer, model, and performer living in Manhattan. You can routinely read her film and music reviews here on Pop-Break and you can also check out her work on zumic.com and nytheatreguide.com. A social media and pop culture enthusiast, Mallory also enjoys musical theatre, superhero films, and drinking coffee. You can visit Mallory at her website, www.mallorydelchamp.com