Sunday, March 15

Cinderella Review

Dir: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Lily James, Kate Blanchett, Richard Madden, and Helena Bonham Carter
112 Min

The story of Cinderella has been told many times over in many different alterations both in literature and film, however it’s hard to compare any other to the classic Disney animated version. To no surprise Disney has crafted a live action update of the iconic fairy-tale directed by the oft-Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh who has easily made the jump into the director’s chair. Here Branagh foregoes the reinvention or re-imagining but instead remains faithful to the 1950 Disney original, almost spot-on in some places. The result is a pleasant rendition filled with unashamed moments of fairy-tale magic sure to please the young princess in the family.

Ella (Lily James) is a kind, young woman with a gentle heart. She lives with her Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and two stepsisters (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger) after the unexpected passing of father. Ella is relinquished to the cold confines of an upstairs attic and waits on her Stepmother and sisters beck and call. Throughout Ella’s attitude remains positive and upbeat, always looking for the best of every person she meets. An unexpected encounter with the Prince (Richard Madden), the help of a Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), and a little bit of magic prove to change Ella’s life for good.

“Cinderella” wears the homage it proudly honors on its sleeve. With some of the photography near identical to the setups in the Disney original and even though musical numbers aren’t present here, the memorable song and dance moments are mentioned with nice touches. Branagh does a great job building up the fairy tale atmosphere, so when moments like a transforming pumpkin or computer generated mice show up, it never feels out of the ordinary. Instead it’s little things like unneeded camera movements, unnecessary sounds, and some poor dialog that disturb the coherence and take the viewer out of the film. Still, these are small things in a film that has so much to live up to.

Lily James, known for her role on the television show “Downton Abbey”, brings Cinderella effortlessly to life. Her charming and likable portrayal pulls the viewer immediately into the emotional context of the character. It’s a strong performance that was necessary for the success of this film. It’s hard to imagine this performance would be outshined, but when the always interesting Cate Blanchett is in your film, anything is possible. Blanchett is completely effective, whether her snarky analysis of the modest setting Ella and her father live in or the bitter words she utilizes for no other reason than to hurt Ella immediately make her villainous character disdainful.

Kenneth Branagh takes the familiar princess story of Cinderella and honors it with a complementing version that holds both the tragic and magical themes from the original story. It’s one of the better interpretations of Cinderella, one that will surely please the adoring fans of the Disney film.

Montes Rating

3.50 out of 5.00

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