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Film Review: Cinderella

Courage, hope and love… Website Features Editor Cerys Thomas swoons over the new Cinderella.

Cate Blanchett as the Evil Stepmother. Photo by

Let’s all start by admitting that we live in a cynical world. Every day we’re reminded of humanity’s capacity to hate, to fear, to ridicule. It’s the darkest part of ourselves. However, what films like Cinderella remind us is that despite living in this often too cruel world, there are moments of hope. And that is what Cinderella encapsulates. Hope. In it’s purest and truest form. Bright enough to radiate through our callous, cold walls of indifference and touch the unadulterated goodness that lies within us all…

True to form, Disney does not deviate from the original story of Cinderella (the 1950 version of the story that is; not the original folktale where the ugly stepsisters cut off their toes in order to fit into the ornate glass slipper- ew). Downton Abbey’s Lily James takes on the titular role of Cinderella. Although not one of the most robust Disney princesses in terms of character, James charms the audience with her portrayal of Cinderella’s capacity for love and kindness. James is joined by Richard Madden (nice seeing him in a role where he doesn’t get his head chopped off and impaled on a spike…) who plays the handsome, if somewhat perplexed Prince, who struggles between his love for his Kingdom and his love for the simple country girl he met in the woods, Cinderella.

To contrast with the sweetness of Cinderella and Prince Charming’s love story there is The Evil Stepmother, played by the magnificent Cate Blanchett. Blanchett’s character, a singular cross between an American Crime Femme Fatale and an overzealous Dance Mom, is a simultaneous representation and critique of us, the jaded audience member, who can no longer see or believe in the magic of true love. In one of the most climactic scenes of the film, Cinderella asks her step-mother why she feels the need to treat people with derision and contempt. Her answer: ‘because you are innocent, and good, and I’m….’. The Evil Stepmother’s inability to finish the sentence demonstrates our own cynical reaction when confronted with innocence: disbelief, jealously and eventually anger. However, regardless of flashes of humanity in Blanchett’s character, Kenneth Branagh (the film’s director) makes sure to reiterate to the audience her true evil nature, even going so far as to name her cat Lucifer. Yep, she’s literally got the devil as a pet.

Overall, Cinderella is a parable for the modern age. Sure, Cinderella may not be as empowered and independent as Elsa and Merida, but she sure as hell teaches us all one important lesson, the film’s epithet: ‘Have courage, and be kind’.

Catch Cinderella at Curzon, Canterbury from 28th March – 2nd April.

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