Cinderalla, the classic Disney tale come to life, telling the story of how a simple servant girl, grossly mistreated by her wicked step-mother and two ugly step-sisters, captures the heart of the Prince of the Kingdom in which she lives. After being forbidden by her step-mother to attend the Ball being thrown by His Royal Highness to find a bride, Cinderella meets her Fairy Godmother, who transforms her (quite literally) from a down trodden peasant girl, into a beautiful young woman fit for a King. Cinderella attends the ball, and the Prince is smitten with her almost instantly.
As the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella is forced to leave the Ball and the Prince behind before the magic of her transformation wears off, only leaving a glass slipper behind. The Prince vows to find the girl whose foot fits the slipper, and marry her.
With the recent trend of Hollywood bringing everybody’s favourite childhood Disney films to life over the last few years (Maleficent 2014, Snow White and the Huntsman 2012) it was only a matter of time before they took a stab at re-creating what is quite arguably the most well-known story of all time. I doubt there are many people alive today who do not know the story of kind-hearted Cinderella, her wicked step-mother, her ugly step-sisters and of Prince Charming. It’s a story mothers and fathers tell their children to entertain and to inform that being kind and having courage, no matter your circumstances, will always be rewarded.
It’s a story so perfect with its morals that I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about seeing this film. It’s not uncommon to see classic movies be re-told with something of a twist, or a reason behind certain actions which can sometimes over complicate and even change the story entirely (I’m looking at you, Maleficent). I’m happy to report, however, that this film stays true to the story we all know and love. Lily James plays the young girl who strongly believes that if you show kindness and courage to others, you will see results. Her acting is simply flawless. There is not one scene in which you are thinking ‘Perhaps she’s overreacting?’ or ‘No one can be that hopeful.’ No matter what emotion James wants you to feel, you feel it. The same goes for Cate Blanchett in her role as the wicked step-mother. Quite honestly, I was worried that they were going to change the persona of the wicked step-mother. I didn’t want her to suddenly have a change of heart, and want her to marry the Prince (I want my villains to be villains!). I was delighted to find that Blanchett not only brought class to a woman many of us have despised since we were children, but also with it, a new level of evil to her character. She never wavers from playing the jealous, elder character, whose sole ambition is to get herself and her daughters out of debt by any means necessary. There is a scene where she challenges an officer of the Prince, and forbids Cinderella from leaving her attic. Though quite a simply written scene, the power behind Blanchett’s dialogue does send a chill down your spine. And then, of course, there is the charming five minute scene featuring everyone’s favourite outcast – Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. Bonham Carter acts as the ditsy, loving guardian beautifully, giving Cinderella back the hope that happiness can still exist, even after it has been shattered at the hands of her abusing step-mother.
Lily James was, quite simply, the star of the film. Though James has not been acting for that long, the film is proof that she has quite a promising acting career ahead of her. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who is already a fan of Disney’s Cinderella, but even to those who have lost the sense of magic that exists in their favourite childhood films. This funny, charming film will have even the most cynical of critics having a hard time finding faults with it. And that is simply because there doesn’t seem to be any.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter
Running Time: 113 minutes.
Release Date: 27 March 2015