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Film Review: Cinderella

30th March 2015

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After watching films from Disney that have been brilliant because of their twist on the traditional, the most apt example being, of course, Frozen, Cinderella takes a step back. Adhering very much to the old fashioned tale, we see glass slippers, a pumpkin turn into a carriage and a Cinderella who is the epitome of kindness.

Granted, I had no desire to see a Cinderella who is part of a gang, kills mice or ends up punching an ugly step-sister. Yet the complete back to basics approach didn’t quite work either. Unlike critics who agree that the adaptation proves right the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, I’m not so sure. I’ll agree it’s not broken, but it is, arguably, outdated. This was only sorely emphasised by the brilliant Frozen Fever short that we see before the film starts.

Not being a fan of the conventional and also being a feminist meant this slipped into predictable, bland and insipid for me. It’s not unpalatable - Cinderella, played by Lily James, is sticking around not because she thinks she can’t make it on her own but because of her attachment to the house itself. Now her parents aren’t there to live it anymore, she will love it for them. I couldn’t help but wonder, though: surely they loved her more than the house? In which case, she ought not put up with being treated so badly by the brilliantly hate-able stepmother, played by Cate Blanchett.

There were still some moments of brilliance. Helena Bonham Carter as fairy godmother was noteworthy, and as she pronounced herself “hairy dogfather”, she injected some much-needed humour into the story. Breaking the mould of Bellatrix Lestrange, in which I so resolutely placed her, she was almost the real star of the show. It was unfortunate we didn’t see more of her and her memorable one liners. Just a point to note: she doesn’t work with squash (“too mushy”).

Indeed, more fairy godmother would have allowed for a little more comedy. Strokes of it also came from royal painter, Rob Brydon, but he too had limited screen time. With such scope for humour, it certainly felt lacking. The step sisters were despicable and wonderfully unlikeable, as was Blanchett as step-mother, but ridiculing them should have been much easier, though their wardrobe choices were certainly on the money in that respect.

Keeping it classic is not a recipe for disaster, but it will inevitably mean predictability. Perhaps it’s simply because I am not a sucker for a fairytale, but it all felt a tad little too monotone and without any peaks or troughs of emotion, bar the scene with Helena Bonham Carter. There was certainly the potential for me to have come out raving about it, considering my deep love of all things Disney, but it simply fell flat. If it is the modern twist you abhor, this will appeal. For me, it was a tad too run-of-the-mill. I would’ve like a Cinderella with a little more spark and a Prince with a little more character.

As we hear from the narrator, Cinderella sees the world not as it is, but as it could be. It’s unfortunate I can’t help but do the same with regard to the film.

Cinderella is out in UK cinemas now. 

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