This was to have been a family outing a couple weeks ago, to see the new live-action adaptation of the story Cinderella but we were all, in turn, under the weather. Finally, it’s school vacation week, the film is about to leave the Spectrum, so the three of us, plus a friend of The Daughter finally get to see this Disney film.
At some level, the Wife and I wish we had seen it sooner, for while it reviewed reasonably well (85% positive), it’s always the thumbs down that the mind remembers.
Truth is, I’m not sure we NEED another Cinderella film at all. Still, it looked quite fine, the sets, and lovely costumes, and the production design. Director Kenneth Branaugh does a decent job with pacing this. One of the better scenes was the deconstruction of the carriage, shortly after midnight.
One of the complaints was that there was a lot of death in this film. Hey, there’s ALWAYS death in a Disney film from Bambi’s mother to (Finding) Nemo’s mother. In fact, one gets to actually get to know Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell, Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel TV show), and feel sad when (CAN THIS BE A SPOILER?) she dies. Often in the Cinderella narrative, she’s quickly, or already, dead. This narrative was a good choice.
Her father (Ben Chaplin) spends enough time with his daughter (Lily James, Lady Rose MacClare from Downton Abbey) before he decides to remarry. Cate Blanchett is, unsurprisingly, masterful as the stepmother, and we get a sense of why she’s so wicked. Her daughters (Sophie McShera, Daisy Robinson Mason from Downton Abbey; and Holliday Grainger, who has played villains Lucrezia Borgia and Bonnie Parker) are far more ugly inside than out.
That Ella meets the prince (Richard Madden, Robb Starkin in Game of Thrones) before the ball makes the narrative less the “Suddenly, their eyes meet, and they fall in love” of other iterations. It’s a bit more empowering without being too heavy-handed.
My favorite character may be the captain of the guard (Nonso Anozie from Game of Thrones), but there were other nice performances, by Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke, Derek Jacobi as the King, and especially Helena Bonham Carter as the somewhat dipsy Fairy Godmother. Oh, the mice were good too.
The short before the film was Frozen Fever, a sequel to the massively successful movie, with most of the original cast, but none of its joy, unless you like the one joke, which is about booger snowmen. I was going to say it left me cold, but I was forbidden from doing so.