Sir Kenneth Branagh is a genius. The live-action adaptation of Cinderella is quite remarkable. Honestly if you loved the original Disney classic, you’ll love this film. If the classic wasn’t your cup of tea, we here at Inkwell co. genuinely think the live-action film is worth every penny you spend on the ticket and snacks. Branagh has taken this gem and certainly shined it up, making it enjoyable for all.
Where do we start? Casting. Great. The chemistry between all the characters, the relationships between them all, were brilliant. The way the actors took these parts and completely embodied what each character represents, really is testament to both the actors and director. Going into the theatre, we were excited to see whether the actors would do each character justice, and they did. It was great to see young stars taking centre stage and absolutely honing into each role. Of course veteran actors such as Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Derek Jacobi made an impact with strong contrasting parts.
What I love is that each character had their own journey within the grand scheme of it all. Lily James, I commend her on her performance. She is a great Cinderella. A breath of fresh air. From all the leading ladies in the past live-action Disney films, I have to say, she’s hands down the best so far. I must admit there were questions floating around the office when it was first announced James, known for her role in Downton Abbey, would take on the part. If you had any doubts, rest assured, the correct choice was made. She absolutely captures the essence of Cinderella, and the kindness message, woven within the film was incredibly believable coming from the young actress.
The scenes between James and Richard Madden, who played the Prince, also known as Mr. Kit were absolutely charming. Their first interaction in the woods was such a sweet moment, that had many in the audience smiling. Richard Madden makes a great Prince. Prince Charming wasn’t my favourite Disney Prince. A title that is now being contested by Richard Madden’s portrayal of the Prince. The scenes with his Captain, played by Nonso Anozie were witty and really great to see. A camaraderie that really elevated the Princes story and had the audience responding in a really positive way. A great scene towards the end of the film had the audience collectively gasp in response.
We can’t forget Cate Blanchett. It’s as if the role was made for her. You can see the calibre of brilliance she as a performer brings to each part. This was no different. Her laugh, her walk, her voice, her expressions, all on point. She completely honed in on the villain and took us on a journey that had us feeling so many different things for the character. The way her character interacted with the other characters really intrigued me. A member of my team mentioned Blanchett had an almost Joan Crawford quality about her. Exactly it! I definitely saw it and it just goes to show how versatile Blanchett is, and how remarkable she is as an actress. We absolutely loved her portrayal, Blanchett really made Lady Tremaine the character we love to hate. You experience those moments, where you’re sitting in your seat outraged by something Lady Tremaine has done to Cinderella, but also marvelling at how she takes the character, and makes her one you just want to see more of.
The kindness and courage message was quite prominent throughout the film. Starting with the touching moments with her mother, then her father and then it became something that Cinderella shared with other characters. The message was one that drove home and paralleled the track of the story. After all the trials Cinderella faced, kindness and courage were the key points that still resonated with her. And I have to say, really made me think about how I would respond in her situation. Yes, this is a work of fiction, you can’t help but put yourself in the role and contemplate as to how you would react in these situations. It’s this positive thought, that will make a difference. A message that will really speak to the audience.
Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother was beyond anything I expected. Funny, personable, expressive and just overall someone we all want as our Fairy Godmother. Introduced to us as an old woman asking for something to eat and drink, completely transforms when Cinderella treats her with kindness. The pumpkin, horses, footmen and coachman transformations were well done. For some reason the dress transformation was a weak part for me. Not major problems but one of two small issues I had within the whole film. It could just be that I love the original animated transformation better or maybe it was just a tad bit too long, but regardless I LOVE the dress and the slippers.
Which brings me to the costuming, I really hope these costumes are nominated for awards and win them all. Gorgeous, stunning, beautiful creations that transformed the vision in front of us. Cinderella’s costumes were always, soft, gentle, sweet, what with the tones and fluidity. Certain points, the Prince matched her and I feel it absolutely worked. In contrast the Stepmother and Stepsisters designs were sharp, loud, in a way constricting both in how they looked and in design, elements that completely worked. The costumes added to the characters. The designs captured the personalities of each part and from experience I know, when you love a design and feel it really works with your character you transform, everything works in your favour and you completely become that character. You believe it and more often than not, the audience believes it. The music was another asset to the overall aspect of the film. The scores were enchanting, whilst you notice the music, it’s not overpowering. It really highlights important scenes within the film, it builds momentum in crucial scenes. During the credits we’re treated to two songs performed by Lily James who sings A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes and Helena Bonham Carter singing Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo. Another nice touch were the sound effects for the mice. Reminiscent of the sounds the original animated mice made, Gus was front and centre, instrumental in the development of some very key moments.
One other thing I have to mention. The camera work in this film is brilliant. The set designer, cinematographer, all deserve high praise. The sets were opulent contributing to the story and really played to the strengths of what we as an audience were meant to see in each scene. Something else that played a major role in this was the way the movie was filmed. The lighting was key, even in the darkness there were glimpses of light, parts that were lit, that attracted Cinderella. These parts were also complimented by the warm, honey like tones present when Cinderella was happy. Great work when it came to reflecting emotions and feelings.
The point of view shots, the panning, sometimes from side to side, other times from on top of the characters, that would draw out to see the situation they found themselves in, really, truly connected with me. I absolutely loved the feeling that we were looking in, that we were ultimately spectators, enjoying a story. When you were younger, I’m hopping when you heard tales and stories you would create the picture in front of you. Whilst you didn’t interact with the characters, you were there, watching the events that transpired from the story you were reading or listening to. That’s what this film did. Shots taken from behind the china on a table, out of focus and with Cinderella in the background in focus, to Cinderella walking down the stairs in the palace ballroom, where she is positioned to the right of the screen with the magnificent chandelier in the foreground to the left. All these techniques really showed just how talented Branagh is as a director. It was overall a work of art. I will definitely see this film again in cinema. It’s worth it.
The audience were crying, laughing and clapping. Earlier on everyone walked into the theatre (that actually mimicked the opulence seen on screen) and there was just a resounding joy amongst the audience. People of all ages, boys and girls, couples and families came to see a classic reinvigorated. Children dressed up, and even some older ladies took the chance to lose themselves in the moment and wear the tiaras and accessories handed out upon entry. I attended with a group of people, variety of ages, girls and boys. We all enjoyed the film and all agreed that it was the best live-action Disney film so far.
Rating: 4.5/5 ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
The short film Frozen Fever also debuted before the film. It was a lovely addition, but didn’t have the impact Frozen had. The song seemed to be more of an afterthought than the primary focus or point of the short.
After the success of Frozen it just seemed a bit like an afterthought. Not particularly thrilling. Cute but not exciting. Olaf is great, he’s the highlight from the short, the costume changes are also nice. The concept is good too, Elsa has a cold, but hey, ‘the cold never bothered her anyway.’
It’s definitely interesting, as this could be a key indicator as to how they will approach Frozen 2, depending on how audiences respond to the short. All in all, we unfortunately forgot about the short, and gushed about the film.