Saturday, March 14, 2015
Movie Review: "Cinderella"
There are no major changes to the story: Cinderella (the extremely likable Lily James) still lives with her evil stepmother (played deliciously by Cate Blanchett) and her two stepsisters (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera), who do not allow her to go the ball. Alas, in steps Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), who grants Cinderella with a pumpkin carriage and a ball gown with two glass slippers so that she can meet Prince Charming (handsomely played by Richard Madden). It's a simple story, told in a very grand fashion visually, but never overturning the story to meet a more modern viewpoint, which is a breath of fresh air in this time of revisionist fairy tales.
Director Kenneth Branagh really keeps the story simple and yet opulent at the same time thanks to the amazing team of behind the scenes wizards at his disposal. The sets, the costumes, the cinematography, the music, it's all exceptional, and it is that ability to unite great talents under one person's purview that makes Branagh a desirable director for these Hollywood studios. However, the true star of Cinderella is screenwriter Chris Weitz.
Weitz's script is the glue that holds the film together and makes it work, because in our jaded modern age, it would have been easy to have tried to flip the story around and make it to where Cinderella doesn't need the Prince to save her, etc. and so forth. What Weitz does is rather stick to the traditional story and finds the human justifications as to why these characters act and feel the way that they do. Even the evil stepmother has motivation, and so does Cinderella, for why she has not ever runaway from home. The idea that Cinderella lives looking at the world not as it is, but as it could be through courage and kindness, makes her a strong character internally. Weitz also makes Prince Charming a character beyond simple good looks and charm, which is something that a lot of fairy tale films have always struggled with, even the good ones. I especially like the way that Weitz shows Cinderella changing Prince Charming's world view through her kindness, making him a stronger man. Of course, a screenplay would be nothing if it weren't for the actors.
What allows this film to really connect is that you actually like Lily James as Cinderella and Richard Madden as Prince Charming. It is hard for actors to sell love at first sight, and their chemistry is wonderfully adorable, allowing you to root for the two of them to be together forever. In so many ways, it is those simplistic ideas of true love, kindness, and courage, that makes these fairy tales still so enjoyable and life affirming centuries after they were first told. Anyone with a heart and some optimism can be swept away by this film if they just tear down those stone walls of cynicism within and let it. I firmly believe that, so do just that and see this film.
I give Cinderella a 10 out of 10!