Cinderella: A Review
Kenneth Branagh’s mesmerizing adaptation of one of Disney’s most beloved classics is sure to enchant any hopeless romantic.
All the familiar tropes of the well-documented fairy tale are present amongst a backdrop of jaw-dropping scenery, dazzling costumes and one of the most spectacular palaces ever seen on film. Cynics may roll their eyes at the prospect of yet another version of the tale that has been adapted across various cultures since the first century! However, those with a little of the child still in them are sure to find much to be delighted about in this new version.
For starters, there’s the stellar cast! Having never seen an episode of Downton Abbey, I had no idea what to expect from Cinderella herself, Lily James, who effortlessly adopts Cinderella’s sweetness and charm, together with her classic blonde locks, as though the role was made for her. The stepsisters Anastasia (played by the actually very beautiful Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) offer an amusing Pantomime humour to the roles, whilst the wicked stepmother herself, played to chilling perfection by Cate Blanchett provides another unforgettable performance to her impressive resume. Despite my love for Helena Bonham Carter’s many talents, I was apprehensive about her role as Cinderella’s fairy godmother but was delighted by the magic, wit and elegance she gave to her brief stint in the film. As for Prince Charming actor Richard Madden, he had already stolen my heart as Game of Throne’s Robb Stark and here he demonstrates the breath of his talent by transforming an easily one-dimensional role into a memorable and irresistibly charismatic one.
It’s a good thing too that these performances are so wonderful as they are almost up-staged by the stunning effects that surround them. The fairy godmother’s iconic magic is done with a comic twist. A large pumpkin squishes Cinderella and her godmother against the walls of a greenhouse as it transforms into a beautiful, golden carriage whilst Cinderella is made fit for a ball in an enchanting use of CGI that will transport any Disney princess fan right back to their childhood!
The ball itself is rife with spectacular gowns and set pieces but my personal favourite is the transformation of Cinderella’s carriage back into its original form. The sequence is shot with surprising tension that makes you forget you already know its outcome as the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella begins her desperate pursuit to escape Royal eyes before her beautiful white stallions become tiny mice once more.
You may need to be partial to fairy tales, but there is plenty here to appeal to those much older than the film’s recommended age group.