This production of Cinderella with director Kenneth Branagh is most enchanting, but the fairy tale has been tweaked by writer Chris Weitz, modernizing it to be in tune with current values. For instance, Cinderella is kind without being mealy mouthed. She took to heart her mother’s exhortation to “have courage and be kind.” Later, she insists that her suitor must “like me as I am.” When the prince is searching for the mysterious woman at the ball, he is certain that he wants to marry her “if she is willing.” And the king—after some convincing by his son, urges him to marry for love as opposed to making a contract in the kingdom’s interest.
Lily James plays the part of Cinderella with just the right amount of sauciness and sincerity, and makes an interesting contrast with Blanchett, the conniving step-mother, whose two daughters, Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) add buffoonery and gaucheness to further the entertainment. Prince Charming (Madden) is shown to have values and to be coming into his own as a responsible adult. The fairy godmother (Carter) adds magic and sparkle, and the special effects used to transform a pumpkin, mice, a goose and lizards into a royal transport are particularly well done.
This is a great movie for children; it has flash that will dazzle them, intrigue that will engage them, and wholesome messages that may seem to pass by, but hopefully will be stored in their brains somehow.
I thoroughly enjoyed a cast made up of a number of well-known TV personalities: James and McShera (Downton Abbey), Madden (Game of Thrones), and Hayley Atwell (The Pillars of the Earth). Of course, Blanchett, Carter, Stellan Skarsgard, and Derek Jacobi are loved and revered in the movie world.
Wonderfully updated version of a beloved fairy tale.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland