It’s a tale that’s been told a hundred times before. It’s not a story that contains any surprises, and you know how it’s going to end when it starts. But it’s fantastic. Kenneth Branagh, director of Thor, has done an amazing job bringing Cinderella to live action. The cast alone is superb, with Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother, Cate Blanchett as the evil-stepmother, Stellan Skarsgard as an advisor to the King (played by Derek Jacobi) and his son, the Prince (played by Richard Madden), and Lily James as an endearing Cinderella. This film is more than its cast, though.
Oftentimes Princes aren’t likable and they’re asses. Sometimes it takes them a bit to have that needed turn around. Kit gets it quickly. There’s actual chemistry between Kit and Cinderella. He listens to what she says, and he tries to emulate it. He becomes a better person (and you see this in the film) by meeting her. We see the prince in a very human light in this version, and that’s novel.
Lily James does a stellar job as Cinderella. She’s emotional, she’s got bundles of courage, and she portrays an innocence not often seen. Her version of Cinderella is going to hit you right in the feels and leave you wondering just how Cinderella does it. Cinderella is always known for her kindness, but in the case of this version that’s really shoved home. Cate Blanchett’s evil-stepmother is truly evil to her very core and she spends a lot of the time with a big smile on her face as she stomps all over Cinderella.
Emotions aren’t glossed over in this film. You feel the characters’ loss, their frustration, their joy. You’re put through the emotional ringer. There’s a lot of humor in it, too. It’s the little things that really accomplish this, with several brief scenes strategically located to relieve the tension. Carter’s fairy godmother scene is perhaps one of the biggest comedic/touching moments in the film. The choreography for the dances is gorgeous and the way the dance between Cinderella and Kit was filmed was exceptional. It’s old-fashioned, yet romantic, and the two of them flow together wonderfully.
If you get the chance, go see this film. Cinderella isn’t a girl waiting for her prince to save the day. She’s a woman who overcomes all of her obstacles, who teaches a prince that you should always be kind, and who possesses an amazing power of will.