- Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
- With: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden
- 113 Minutes
Disney keeps trying to bring back to the big screen the wonders of fairy tales in a live action format and frankly from the looks of the trailers, Cinderella appeared to be somewhat disappointing. With a story that everyone is familiar with I was expecting it would fail just like Maleficent… So probably you’re now picturing my low expectations regarding Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation. However Disney managed to surprise me with a heart-warm adaptation that was by far better than what I was expecting. It was like a brief return to my childhood years in which I watched several Disney classics alone at home but with a touch of magic from this century… Cinderella is the living proof that perhaps Disney is getting somewhere with this new live-action adaptations.
Cinderella is the story of a beautiful girl named Ella (Lily James) who has the purest heart and who is constantly trying to be kind, thanks to her mother’s advice. When her father passes away during a long journey, Ella finds herself stuck in a world controlled by her evil stepsisters and her evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett) that were constantly trying to ruin her life. Without giving up from being brave and kind, Ella is forced to do a huge amount of chores while her stepsisters and stepmother seize the day doing everything they wished to do. However, one day, Ella’s fortunes change after meeting her fairy godmother who gives her the chance to live the life she always dreamt about.
For a movie that was clearly directed for kids, Cinderella brought back memories of my childhood years and this made the whole experience somewhat surprising. While the main plot remained the same, Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation tries to cover or at least to explain some of the weaker aspects that were left behind in past adaptations. But since this is a fairy tale well-known by everyone, I will try to not give too much emphasis to the plot during my review… While the story remains almost the same, except for the small differences I’ve already mentioned like the moment when Ella meets the prince and the moment her stepmother and stepsisters begin to size her kindness and good-will, which give the viewer a better perspective on the whole story, the true magic of Branagh’s movie comes from one particular performance… Cate Blanchet was simply dazzling to watch in a more evil performance that is enhanced by her beauty and talent. As Ella’s stepmother, Blanchet is a rude and vile woman who forces Ella to do all the chores after the sudden death of her father. Blanchet plays a character everyone loves to hate in a way I was not expecting to see in a children’s movie. But it’s not only Blanchet who deserves to be praised… Cinderella works pleasantly well also thanks to Lily James’ sweet performance that fills the screen with an Ella pretty close to Disney’s original animated adaptation of the fairy tale. She plays a kind and beautiful girl that is taught to be kind and brave and that tries to enjoy her life even though her stepsisters and stepmother are constantly tearing her apart. My only complaint regarding the characters is something I think that lacks in most of the fairy tales… Even with Richard Madden giving his best, the charming prince appeared to be Ella’s ultimate prize for being brave and kind during several years… Even though there’s a side-plot focused on the prince’s life, it’s really hard to connect with the character.
Ultimately, Cinderella is a satisfying experience for both children and grown-ups and it’s a surprising achievement from Disney when one compares it with Maleficent. With so many live-action adaptations planned for the up-coming years, Cinderella was clearly a step into the right direction. Kenneth Branagh combined the magic of Cinderella with a dazzling Cate Blanchett filling the screen alongside the beautiful Lilly James. With the potential to please entire families, the not-so-special story of the girl with the crystal shoe turns into something magic or at least quite pleasant to watch. Cinderella is a sweet and moving movie for the whole family that brings back Disney’s magic to the big screen…