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What do you say about a 79 year old man who has seen “Cinderella” as a ballet, as an animated film, on stage as a musical, heard the story as a kid, seen a couple versions as a film and in 2015 sits in a theatre looking at the latest film version and roots for Cinderella to find her prince and live happily after? And why does his heart beat a little bit faster when Cinderella dances with the prince for the first time at the Ball? More than anything this is a romantic love story.
Yes we have the evil stepmother--Cate Blanchett--but she is given an underlying sadness while the stepdaughters, Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger, are given complimentary outfits that make them sillier than whatever they say. We meet Cinderella’s mother before she died and the love her parents felt for each other and her plus, along the way, we met the Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) not to forget the mice, now digitally and even cuter than in the original Disney animated film. Lizards become the footmen and a goose, who at one point asks “What does a goose know about driving a coach?” is the driver of the enhanced golden coach.
The technical aspects of the film are engrossing such as what happens after the clock strikes 12, the beauty of the glass slippers not to forget the blue ballroom dress or the splendor of the castle and the grounds. The dressing, and hairstyles, of Blanchett help her steal every scene she is in. The film, to quote a cliché is as pretty as a picture and the screen play by Chris Weitz and the direction by Kenneth Branagh add a little more depth then usually given to the lead characters. Richard Madden, as the prince, may have blue eyes digitally enhanced or they may be that blue naturally but as dazzlingly as he looks he fit’s the role. He is given some gravitas by having his father (Derek Jacobi) in the film, who is dying, and wants his son married and their country secure. The most tender, almost Shakespearean, scene occurs between the father and son.
Lily James, as Cinderella, is a true to life Elsa, from “Frozen”, in a more beautiful blue gown. She comes across as a free spirit who can ride a horse wildly through a forest and yet can take her mother’s old gown and rework it as a professional seamstress. With all that it is when she looks at the prince and smiles that we (we’ll me!) melt.
Cate Blanchett has always been known as a versatile stage and screen actress but here as the stepmother she adds another side as a villainess with a sad heart and no matter who is on screen with her, no matter what eye catching outfit she is wearing, she is the center of attention.
The bottom line is that “Cinderella” is a love story of the first magnitude and this old man doesn’t care if you see him hold his breath and even shed a tear as Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after!


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