CGB Review of Cinderella (2015)

I want that dress!

This is my review of Cinderella!


I’m pretty sure that you’re all familiar with the story of Cinderella, but just for the sake of emphasis, I’ll go over the plot: After the death of her beloved father, a young girl becomes a slave to her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, but with the aid of her fairy godmother, she is able to attend a grand ball where she catches the eye of the prince.  She flees from the ball, leaving behind a glass slipper which the prince uses to find her.

In my list of Best Movies of 2015, I gave the #1 spot to both Cinderella and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.   The first time I saw this movie, I thought it was going to be an okay kids flick.  I walked out of the theater head-over-heels in love with this brilliantly-written, delightful film.

The Hits
The dress.  Holy cow, Cinderella’s ball gown is amazing!  An oceanic, watercolor blue, the dress shimmers from the silk-organza, giving the illusion that Cinderella floats whether she’s dancing or running.
Lily James is luminous as Cinderella.  Seriously, you could throw mud on her face and she would still be gorgeous!  She has an integral kindness that never makes her come off as a passive pushover.  This is a genuinely sweet character who learns the hard way about the selfishness and cruelty that human beings are capable of.  Her chemistry with Richard Madden’s humble and gracious Prince Kit is believable.  There is an innocence to their romance, a chasteness to their love that is sadly not found in modern Hollywood films.  Their first dance at the ball is mesmerizing and demonstrative of Kit’s compassion for Ella.  As they dance, he keeps a protective hold on her while allowing her to twirl and move her body, giving her freedom as he guides her.  I like to think that this is the kind of sacramental love that Pope John Paul II had in mind when he wrote Theology of the Body.
Cate Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine is elegantly intimidating.  I think her mannerisms were the best part of her performance.  The way she would smoothly tilt her head or slyly curve her lips as she let out a maniacal laugh.  This Lady Tremaine is a graceful but embittered socialite who knows that while her new husband (Cinderella‘s father) may love her, she will always live in the shadow of his first wife and daughter, both of whom are his true love.
The costumes and color contrasts are genius.  For one, every other character except for Ella and Prince Kit is dressed in blunt, harsh colors.  Lady Tremaine’s dresses are always dark green with her nails painted red.  The stepsisters wear bright yellow and deep pink.  Even the fairy godmother’s dress is a blinding white.  Ella and Prince Kit are the only characters who dress in simple, softer colors.  Costume designer Sandy Powell has said that she intended to have all the other gowns worn at the ball to be gaudy and saturated with bling so that Ella’s dress would stand out among the crowd.

The Misses
I didn’t care for the stepsisters.  While they’re not as abominably annoying as the fairies in Maleficent, they are flat caricatures.  Also, the fairy godmother is pretty forgettable in my opinion.  Given that she’s an important plot point, I feel that her presence is underwhelming.
As much as I love Ella’s powder-blue dress that she wears throughout the film, I gotta ask: Is that the only dress she owns?  Before Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters show up, we don’t see grown-up Ella wearing any other dresses.  To be fair, it makes more sense once Ella is kicked out of her own bedroom and forced to sleep in the attic, meaning that she has no access to her other clothes, but still, it is a little odd that she wears the same dress every single day.

Cinderella is an enchanting family film that kids will love and adults can find enjoyment in.  The luminous Lily James (yes, that is what I will call her in my reviews from now on) gives the best portrayal as the iconic Cinderella character, the costumes are breathtaking and the film’s messages of hope, kindness and being yourself without artifice are among the many reasons why I highly recommend this magical family film.

Saint Agnes of Rome, pray for us.

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