Guest Review by Assil
I was definitely reluctant to watch Cinderella. The world doesn’t need another rags-to-riches remake, or another childhood classic and its reputation completely tarnished. But when it turned into a girls night out and my husband had a football game (a Classico, one of the more serious ones I’m told), I realized that I missed that greasy, stale overly-salted VOX cinema popcorn.
I was even more reluctant when the movie began and the Sunday night theatre crowd seemed rather dodgy. An overzealous mom in front of us was taping the whole movie on her mobile while the single middle-aged man next to us seemed to have come alone. Seriously, to Cinderella?
To my surprise, the movie was wonderful and I was absolutely enchanted. Overall, the film stayed pleasantly true to my childhood memories – the stepmother, the mice, the bibiddi bobbidi-ing, they certainly didn’t fall short of capturing the magic of the classic Disney fairytale.
Director Kenneth Branagh hit, or thankfully just lightly touched, all the right buttons while managing to add a tad more depth to the plot. The stepmom’s scheme for example, (spoiler alert) of attempting to collaborate with Cinderella and then blackmailing the Grand Duke was a successful attempt at adding an edge to the re-telling without overpowering the classic. However, other plot twists and additions were a bit uncalled-for such as the prince’s “secret garden” and the sexual innuendo (whether intentional or not).
As an overall Disney experience, the movie did its job perfectly. The breathtaking kingdom, the gorgeous (and intentionally horrible) dresses, the quaint houses. I expected nothing less of Disney. But the score… the score was exceptional! My favorite addition was the classic nursery rhyme Lavender Blue. Composer Patrick Doyle beautifully integrated it into the movie, with a magical orchestra waltz version accompanying Cinderella’s entrance to the ball. That and the stepsister’s appalling rendition of Shakespeare’s “It Was a Lover and His Lass” were arguably the movie’s strongest scenes. I did miss out on the classic 1950 versions however; they would have better honored the tradition and made the soundtrack complete.
Cate Blanchett was definitely the highlight of the picture. She was the perfect wicked stepmom with just enough of a background story to ensure we maintain a soft spot for our villain. Sadly, prince-not-so-charming, though well written, did not feel very well cast. Could you blame me for asking for a tad more wit and drool-worthiness after Chris Pine razzle-dazzled us in Into The Woods? I’m sorry but this gal’s Prince Charming bar has been set too high. As for our little heroine, Lily James didn’t seem to be the strongest choice at first, but by the time she met Mr. Kit in the forrest, she had proven herself Cindy material – kind, soft spoken, and perfectly relatable.
The movie did get criticized for Cindy’s exaggerated waist line, but my two cents: it’s Cinderella, let’s not overthink it! Just watch it with a few close friends who you can laugh alongside with at the dimwitted stepsisters and the oversized cups (the signature accessory of the kingdom’s men). I would choose the 1950 classic any day just so I can sing along to the magical classics, but hey, I wouldn’t have girls night any other way!
It is refreshing to see a re-telling of a childhood classic that stayed true to the original (and cliché) plot line that we all know and love. So skip the Apple TV (or online streaming) because with cinematography this strong, Cinderella is well worth a trip to the theatre.