Cinderella has been given the live action treatment a number of times since she originally appeared. So how does the 2015 version of Cinderella fair?
At this point, it would be safe to say that most of us know the story of Cinderella. Young Ella (Lily James) unexpectedly loses her father, resulting in her having no family left other than her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and dim witted stepsisters. As the news of her father dying arrives, her stepfamily immediately reduce Ella to nothing more than a maid, living in the attic. Despite their abuse, she refuses to lose heart and maintains her promise to her parents to be kind at all times. One day she meets a dashing stranger in the woods who, unbeknownst to her, happens to be the Prince (Richard Madden). After the encounter, invitations to a palace ball go out, giving Ella and the Prince hope that they might reunite. However, Ella’s stepmother prevents her from attending. As an upset Ella runs outside, she meets a beggar woman who makes her wishes come true for the night.
This Cinderella is as far from the grisly Grimm brothers’ version as it can get. There are no cutting heels and toes off; the fate of the stepmother is also changed. I’ll let you find out the other adjustments yourself. Needless to say, it’s an extremely clean version and very child friendly. This becomes a double edge sword as the movie progresses.
The set pieces and the cinematography are what you’d expect from a live action Disney film, jaw-droppingly stunning and magical. Same can be said about the costumes, with the exception of the laughable clothes worn by stepsisters. The blue dress Cinderella wears looks exquisite on film, as much as the famous glass slipper. They might just make you wish it was still socially acceptable for an adult to walk around in similar clothes on a daily basis.
The CGI effects in this film could have gone horribly wrong because let’s face it, even with current technology, it is a huge feat to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, lizards and goose into humans, and mice into horses, without looking tawdry. Thankfully, all the transformations are done tastefully and look as authentic as it can be. As it happens, the scene which shows what occurs as it hits midnight is one of the most memorable and exciting moments in the movie.
Cate Blanchett is wickedly unlikable and divine in her role as the stepmother. While she shows some vulnerability in her character, Blanchett still manages to keep her character unpleasant at all times, to the point where audience members would likely want her to suffer. Lily James not only captures the sweet innocence of Cinderella but she also looks the part. I have to add that it’s a pleasant surprise to see the inclusion of “ethnic” actors and actresses without any stereotyping taking place.
It’s a credit to any film when it can hold the attention of young, excited and often restless children. That is exactly what happened at the premiere; it seemed children were at awe throughout the entire 105 minutes.
Undoubtedly, Cinderella is a beautifully told movie, but it is far from perfect. For adults, the story will feel rushed at times, as well as seeminly neatly and kindly tied up in the end. The film makers chose not convey the inner suffering Cinderella feels at the hands of her stepsisters and mother. Instead we are told that she allows the cruelty because her parents made her promise to be kind above all else. As a result, the movie might just leave you feeling a bit frustrated occasionally.
I give it 6 out of 10 stars.
Cinderella is in cinemas now.