Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 52 minutes, Director – Kay Cannon
Aspiring dressmaker Ella (Camila Cabello), finds both love and her dreams, forbidden by her stepmother (Idina Menzel), coming closer when attending a ball held for a prince (Nicholas Galitzine).
Cinderella famously gains her ridiculing nickname from her stepsisters (Charlotte Spencer, Maddie Baillio) noticing that young Ella (Camila Cabello) is constantly covered in dirt and, primarily, cinder. Yet, somehow, this latest retelling of the story manages to make this feel like a lazy, eye-rolling addition. One to go alongside this year’s earlier “your name is Estella, not Cruella”. It goes alongside plenty of on-the-nose, again more so than Cruella, popified musical numbers to simply drive the point to an immovable depth in the ground. The prince (Nicholas Galitzine) who wants somebody to love, belts out a rendition of – you guessed it – Somebody To Love. He thinks that the mysterious Ella in front of him is Perfect and so takes three minutes to sing this to her.
However, while Ella certainly has feelings for Prince Robert her heart mostly lies somewhere else. She aspires to own a shop in the local market where she can make and sell dresses – turning her passion into full-time work. Unfortunately she finds herself under the rule of her stepmother (Idina Menzel), threatening to marry her off to nearby, awkwardly flirtatious vegetable salesman Thomas (Rob Beckett). Yet, thanks to the magic and command of Billy Porter’s unfortunately limitedly used Fab G, Ella is transformed for one night, able to go to the ball which the king (Pierce Brosnan – acknowledging the reason for his lack of musical numbers) is holding in the hope of finding the prince a wife so that he can take over all the land down to the sea monster at the bottom of the map. Royal marriages, after all, are for land gain rather than love; and this shows in his own marriage to Minnie Driver’s Queen Beatrice.
It’s a starry cast, which also somewhat oddly features an array of British comedians such as James Acaster, Romesh Ranganathan and Ben Bailey Smith. It also seems that a lot of the money went into the cast. The few moments of CG in the film aren’t great, but sometimes the sets can seem slightly cheap too. No amount of brightly-coloured large-scale dance/ musical number can quite distract from it. Although, during such sequences your mind does focus on the forced nature of the songs and at times what appears to be rather poor lip-syncing. In a film that clearly wants to bring you in to the loud, in-your-face numbers to have as much of a joyous time as the cast’s teeth-filled smiles are displaying. However, they become increasingly tiring and at times painful as they begin to push the close-to two hour run-time of the piece. Perhaps the film would be shorter if the town crier (Bailey Smith) didn’t come along to retell information we had just seen in the scene just beforehand.
While some of the performances are fine and realise the general tone of the film, and Cabello in her first lead acting role certainly comes out fairly unscathed performance-wise, none of them are able to do justice to the script. With lines of dialogue that feel as clunky and forced as the introduction of the musical numbers things simply feel too obvious. Add to that certain twists and turns for characters along the way and their priorities throughout things can seem a little bit mixed up, especially towards the latter stages of the piece once the ball is finally over and done with. It appears that the film is aimed at a very young audience (despite somehow having a 12 rating from the BBFC) who really, really like modern/ modern sounding music. This Cinderella retelling may very well work for them, however for any older viewers who have to sit through the film there’s little present to please amongst the many loud, autotuned songs and unsubtle points it makes in dialogue breathers.
This is a modern-reaching and attempting retelling of Cinderella. However, that means a lot of loud, in-your-face musical numbers and statements that all lack subtlety and engagement value.