In Review: Cinderella (2015)

by Daniel Goodwin on 26/03/2015


Inspired by European folk origins and the Grimm Brothers tale, film adaptations of Cinderella have not been in scarce supply over the years; the 1950 Disney animation joined by an onslaught of TV movies and spin offs including Ever After (1998) and A Cinderella Story (2004). Now Kenneth Branagh delivers his version of the story while planted firmly in the costume drama comfort zone, the zone which yielded his revered Shakespeare adaptations, Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993) and Hamlet (1996).

The Grimm’s story of Cinderella embodied “a myth element of unjust oppression” with darker facets including a scene where one of the stepsisters cut off her toes so her foot would fit the slipper. Branagh’s adaptation, penned by Chris Weitz (writing credits include About a Boy (2002) and The Golden Compass (2007)), appears to bypass the original tale and acts as a live action remodelling of the Disney animation, with dutiful tweaks. It’s a meticulously rendered production, unadventurous in terms of narrative yet boasts sweeping landscapes, lavish costumes and a final third that will rouse the hardest of hearts.

The first act ambles and doesn’t totally lend itself to the medium despite grand settings and vibrant palette. A great deal of time is spent establishing characters in a familiar manner. While complexities are woven into the archetypes in attempt to provide depth they are not substantial enough to compensate for a slow burning first act. Performances are decent with Cate Blanchett exuding a smooth malevolence as the wicked stepmother. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger are fun as the impish stepsisters Drisella and Anastasia while Lily James and Richard Madden are fine as Cinderella and the Prince. But Helena Bonham Carter steals the show (along with Blanchett) as the twinkle-toed fairy godmother.

Where Disney’s previous live-action effort Into The Woods (2014) spun an alternative take on the Grimm’s tale, Branagh’s film is a visual triumph filled with good intentions, but artistically sterile in terms of plot innovation. Some of the grander, epic and character-focused simplicities may prove too slight for the younger viewers but it’s hard not to be won over by the stunning scenery and eloquent fantasy on display.

Daniel has awarded Cinderella (2015) three Torches of Truth

3 torches cropped

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: