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Review: Cinderella

Ros Hull

“Kenneth Branagh balances the gravity of themes like loss and unfairness, even revenge and bitterness with moments of magic and wit that make this special.”

When her widowed father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger. imdb-for-those-raised-by-aliens-who-don’t-know-this-fairytale

Once upon a time there was a movie reviewer, who may not have been either sweet or good, but she did try to see movies that she thought her readers would want to know a little about. Sadly, some weeks were harder than others with only sequels, kids movies or bro-flicks to choose from and she fell into (very mild) despair. She decided to see Cinderella even though she had little hope of enjoying it.

Then magically, with a bit of bippity-boppity-boo, she was surprised, delighted … and perhaps … just for a brief moment … transported to a land where good prevails and dresses are made for swishing.

Oh my word, the dresses!!

If there are as few as three atoms of fashionista in your makeup it is worth seeing this film just for the clothes and the hats. The hats! I have a friend who is a wonderful milliner and I think some of them might have even challenged her abilities. They defy gravity, with every fold and trim immaculate.

I could witter on for days just about Cate Blanchett’s ensembles alone. No stepmother in any fairytale has ever looked this good. Wonderful echoes of Katherine Hepburn or Joan Crawford owning the screen in an Edith Head design, back when glamour really was glamour, kept rolling around in my head.

Still, everything else melts into the background when Cinders get magicked in THE dress. It is stunning. Stunning! There must be 1000 metres of soft bridal tulle in it. Honestly, it swishes better than any superhero’s cape in a luscious shade of blue dotted with lots and lots of tiny Swarovski crystals. With no digitally slimmed waist in sight, emphatically reiterated by the actors, the crew and the director as they are asked again and again about unreal ideals.

Isn’t it just a little bit sad that the twittersphere and all the other nay-sayers cannot just enjoy a nice movie? No, there has to be vitriol about the message of the story (supposedly ‘how to snare a rich husband’) and the slim waists! Cinder wasn’t looking for a prince, just a night off and a new pair of shoes (I stole that) – and these people must have been watching another film because the message is said again and again. Have courage and be kind.

‘Have courage and be kind’ – a message I would be pleased to get across to any girl I know, boys too.

Mind you, obsessing over Disney does also seem to be the new Area 51. Comparisons and references to the original animated feature, hidden meanings, hidden Mickeys, memes, fanart, princesses, princesses and more princesses. I can understand (and almost forgive) the knee jerk negativity after wading through all that.

Still, back to the movie. Kenneth Branagh balances the gravity of themes like loss and unfairness, even revenge and bitterness with moments of magic and wit that make this special. Little touches like the animated mice – and especially their whimsical change into horses – give this both magic and a sense of humour. He doesn’t let his actors get away with cardboard prettiness either. Each has a distinct character and no one snoozes as wallpaper in any scene.

It is just fantastic, after seasons and seasons of watching Rob Stark (Richard Madden) suffer on Game of Thrones, to see him scrubbed up and smiling. Spectacular eyes too. Lily James is charming as Cinderella – especially when she is allowed a moment or two of rebellion – and Helena Bonham Carter is perfectly cast as her fairy godmother.

Still, the standout character is Cate’s. I am not saying this approaches the magnificence of Maleficent but she does give us, if not acceptable excuses, at least reasons for her steppy meaness.

All that and a new Frozen short feature before the show! The reviewer lived happily ever after – at least until next week.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

  • Michelle B

    I saw this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it, it was a lovely escape! And I agree with everything you said about the dress! It made me want to dress up and swish around. I thought the casting was fantastic. Great review. I also loved the Frozen short before the main movie, it was adorable!!

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