Starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, and Richard Madden
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Review written by Rachel Geiger
An updated version of this classic tale. The result is a visually stunning film that is tastefully done and is sure to please longtime fans of the animated Disney movie, and of the fairy tale in general.
Most of us know the story of Cinderella, (Lily James) a beautiful girl who loses her mother at a young age. Her father later ends up remarrying a woman with two daughters, (Cate Blanchett) all of whom are jealous of CInderella. The jealousy continues after Cinderella’s father passes away and they find out he only cared about CInderella in his final moments. After his death, Cinderella becomes a servant who lives in the attic with only mice to keep her any company. She meets a mysterious boy (Richard Madden) in the woods, who is actually the Prince. Desperate to find her, the Prince holds a ball that her evil stepmother forbids Cinderella to attend. Her eccentric and spacey godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) gives her a beautiful gown, turns a pumpkin into a coach, and gives her glass slippers. Staying true to the classic version, the magic runs out at midnight. The girl loses her shoe which then leads the Prince to find and marry her at last.
Many people were disappointed with this live version of the Disney classic. They expected CInderella to be a character who saves herself and doesn’t need a Prince to save the day. However, this version has a story that teaches kids that it’s important to be kind regardless of the circumstances. As a child, Ella is told by her mother, “Have courage and be kind,” a theme she repeatedly tells herself when her stepsisters and stepmother are unfairly cruel to her. I personally believe that they did an awesome job with keeping true to the Disney version and not going as dark as Brothers Grimm, but it wasn’t exactly the musical that the animated film was, which makes it more real. The plot is endearing and filled with timeless moral lessons.
I think Downton Abbey actress Lily James did an awesome job with Cinderella. She played the part well, with a mixture of both innocence but also kindness. Richard Madden also had his own take on Prince Charming, and gave him a certain depth that the animated film lacked. I also think that it’s weird for Cate Blanchett to play such a repulsive character since she still looks really gorgeous here. However, I do think her role was convincing and she really does make you hate her. Helena Bonham Carter brings a quirky and hilarious element to the role of Cinderella’s fairy godmother. I honestly think that Carter could have easily played the role of the evil stepmother and Blanchett could have played her godmother. Despite this, I think they each did well in their respective roles and brought their own little spins to each character.
Director Kenneth Branagh is known for directing both film and stage adaptations of Shakespeare plays. This experience also contributed to the result of Cinderella. His Shakespeare adaptations keep those qualities that make the stories classic, but he also manages to tie in a more modern take on visuals and costumes. But the take isn’t too modern, which creates a unique balance between traditional and modern. I don’t think Disney could’ve picked a better director for this film.
Cinderella is a fairy tale that many many generations have loved. This 2015 film may not be the edgy feminist film some people were hoping for. But it still remains traditional in a sense that it stays close to the classic story but elements and visuals are definitely modern. At the heart of it all is a film that teaches the moral lesson of being kind to everyone you meet, a simple lesson that all generations can continue to learn from. What more could you want from a film?