Review: Cinderella (2015)

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Part of Disney’s money-making formula to make live-action versions of its animated classics, Cinderella repeats the classic story virtually word for word, not always to its benefit. Ella (Lily James) leads a happy life in company of her mother and father. But when her parents die one after the other, Ella is left in the care of her stepmother (Cate Blanchett), a wicked woman who treats her terribly. Her luck changes for better, however, when she happens upon a stranger (Richard Madden) in the woods. Directed with flair and panache by Kenneth Branagh, Cinderella is sumptuous on the eye, benefitting from picturesque cinematography and stunning set and costume design. There’s certainly visceral magic to savour in every frame. But the same can’t be said for the narrative. It’s a naturally uplifting tale, though it lacks any kind of bite or heft beyond its simple, desperate-to-please intentions. The performances, likewise, are merely suitable, actors like James and Blanchett unable to truly raise their game. Branagh has done an admirable job in keeping Cinderella very Cinderella-like, but it’s rigidness leads to a disappointing sense of boredom.

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