A live action remake of Disney’s animation classic, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella is saved by delicious performances from Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter.
Ashes Of Timeby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
After the more honest and original reworking of its own back catalogue in Saving Mr Banks, you might expect better of Disney. And of director Kenneth Branagh. But remaking in live action their 1950 animation, Cinderella only shows up that those glory days of magical innocence are well and truly over. Halfheartedly using many of the original cartoon’s particulars (including the greedy mouse Gus and lazy cat Lucifer) while leaving out others (the fairy godmother’s song, Cinderella’s pre-ball scrubbing and her mouse-couture dress ripped to shreds), Cinderella opens in a sickly fairyland of hopping bunnies and fantasy clouds. As the fairy tale continues, it only gets worse with enough sparkle, glitter, Swarovski shoes and size zero dresses to poison every young girl’s dream of marriage. But regardless of the clichéd and boringly repetitive script (if only scriptwriter Chris Weitz had had a bit more “courage and kindness”) and some pantomime performances from Cinders (Lily James) and her Prince Charming (Richard Madden), the main issue with Cinderella is a question of inheritance – if she stays in the house her family has owned for over two centuries out of love for her parents who cherished it, why abandon it to go and live in a palace? It’s a newly introduced archaic obedience to patriarchy in which Ella gives up her father’s home only to take on her husband’s. There are however two lights in this marshmallow dark – in the form of Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter, who bring a delicious wickedness and lighthearted brightness to Branagh’s otherwise turgid film. Coupled with an impressive CGI sequence, which sees Cinderella’s coach, footmen, horses and driver metamorphose into pumpkin, lizards, mice and goose, Cinderella does occasionally lift off. But stuffed with so much saccharine candy, Branagh’s film is more a fat, stupid and ugly sister to Disney’s charming 1950 original.
Cinderella is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival