Movie Review #961
|Berlin International Film Festival: February 13, 2015. Wide release: March 13, 2015. Drama/Family/Fantasy. This film is rated PG for mild thematic elements. Runs 105 minutes. An American-British co-production. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Screenplay by Chris Weitz. Cast: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, and Derek Jacobi.|
“CINDERELLA” IS MARVELOUS, THANKS TO ITS ENTHUSIASTIC CAST AND KENNETH BRANAGH’S NONCONFORMIST VISION.
By Alexander Diminiano
Aside from the few who were with their kids, I was quite likely the only guy in the theater with a ticket for “Cinderella”. It’s a fact that I had expected, but frankly, I find it sad. Kenneth Branagh’s take is not a dreamy movie for little girls. Okay, maybe it can be looked at as that, but it’s not so specifically targeted at little girls as the 1950s animated movie was. It is a nostalgic restoration of that original Disneyfication, with a spirited, whimsical attitude that can be appreciated by all who appreciate the value of the original tale.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story (and if that happens to be you, I might recommend a few quick Google searches that could improve your cultural literacy), this is the ultimate rags-to-riches tale. The movie gives it a few slight twists. For example, Cinderella (Downton Abbey’s Lily James) is known as Ella for the majority of the film. She’s only given the moniker when her wicked stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her self-centered stepsisters mock her as she sweeps the cinders, among so much other elbow-grease that is guaranteed not the slightest bit of appreciation. But what we might automatically call a “retelling” from Branagh is not a retelling at all. 2015’s “Cinderella” isn’t modernized, and that’s major nonconformity when we consider that modernization has become a trend for Walt Disney Pictures. There’s two hints of the modern age hidden in here. One is the empowering casting of an African-American as having a major role in the royal castle. I find this element to be highly commendable, an assertion of society in 2015, to substitute what was most likely assumed to be an all-white castle in 1812 when the Brothers Grimm wrote their account. The other minute suggestion of modernization in the most recent account isn’t as admirable: a bubblegum pop song that appears over the closing credits. It took me right out of the period piece setting and straight into Disneyland.