What it's about:
Following the death of her mother, young Ella’s father remarries, and she welcomes her new stepmother and stepsisters into the family home. When Ella’s father also passes away, she’s at the mercy of a cruel family of strangers. Ella is determined to honour her mother’s dying words and “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair or despise those who mistreat her.Unaware that a dashing stranger she meets in the woods is a prince, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. When the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, Ella hopes for another encounter with the stranger. Alas, she is forbidden to attend, and her dress is ripped to shreds. But help is at hand: Cinderella’s fairy godmother, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, might just change her life forever.
What we thought:
As a little girl I’ve never wanted to be a princess and while the Cinderella story was lovely to listen to as a child, it didn’t interest me much.
I like my heroines to be brave, smart and to have some fighting spirit. A take charge kind of lady that doesn’t leave things up to chance. And that’s why I absolutely loved the Cinderella remake Ever After starring Drew Barrymore.
Here was a Cinderella that I could identify with. Come on she hung out with Leonardo Da Vinci. How cool is that?! There was no fairy godmother, no magic, no rescue by a prince, she did it all by herself.
Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella looked to be the classic take on the popular fairytale with a few interesting tweaks.
You know how it goes. Ella’s (Lily James) life changes when her father marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) who moves in with her two daughters Drizella (Spohie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger).
Consumed by jealousy Lady Tremaine and her daughters make Ella’s life a living hell forcing her to take care of the homestead and cater to their every whim. As if that’s not enough they give her the horrible name Cinderella.
But Ella who promised her dying mother to always take care of their home treats them with kindness despite their horrible treatment of her.
One of the twists to the tale is that Ella meets the prince before the ball. This is more believable isn’t it? And when she meets Prince Kit (Richard Madden aka Game of Thrones Rob Stark) he pretends to be an apprentice.
To make things more interesting the screenwriter added another little subplot; the evil stepmother schemes with the royal advisor (Stellan Skarsgard) to keep Ella and Kit apart.
When it comes to the acting the actors did an amazing job. Lily James and Richard Madden had amazing chemistry. One couldn’t help falling in love along with them.
Cate Blanchett is without a doubt the show stopper. She embodied the evil stepmom to a T. There were moments that you really wished you could just rescue poor Ella. I also like that this version gave a bit of background about her character and why she is the way she is.
Oh and Helena Bonham Carter is simply delightful as the fairy godmother.
You’d really have to be a tough customer to not get swept up by the magic, the beautiful music, the costumes and the great acting.
And did this Ella live up to my heroine status? I have to admit I was a bit irritated that in the beginning being kind and good trumped standing up for yourself. But when it really mattered Ella’s fighting spirit came out strong.
Both older and younger audiences will enjoy this one. It’s a breath of fresh air that this live remake kept mostly true to the classic tale. And besides who can resist a happy ending? You’ll probably end up leaving the cinema humming a tune.
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