From: Silver Screen

‘Cinderella’ lacks charm and falters as a fairytale

‘Cinderella’ lacks charm and falters as a fairytale
Camilla Cabello as “Cinderella” in “Cinderella.”

“Cinderella,” the Sony-produced reimagination of the classic fairytale, leaves much to be desired, while also causing sinking disappointment. 

The original story of Cinderella sparks joy and love for both young children and older audiences who grew up with the classic Disney iteration. It should’ve been simple to create a movie appealing to both audiences, but director Kay Cannon fails to do so. The songs are nostalgic for an older teenage audience, while the story itself is silly and less interesting for young viewers. 

At thirty minutes in, it felt as if it were an episode of Glee rather than a retelling of the classic fairytale. With theatrical covers of songs like “Rhythm Nation'' by Janet Jackson, ''Whatta Man'' by Linda Lyndell or “Somebody to Love'' by Freddie Mercury, the film runs the risk of alienating a younger generation of viewers.

In this version, viewers follow our main protagonist, Ella (Camilla Cabello), as she struggles to open her own dress-making business in a society where women are unable to own shops. After meeting Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) in a marketplace, Ella attends the ball and, as the story goes, leaves at midnight. At the ball, Ella is also offered a job by a Queen of a faraway land, bringing her closer to fulfilling her dreams. 

An interesting choice was neglecting the importance of Cinderella’s glass shoe. As a core plot point in many versions of Cinderella, the choice to disregard it here made the movie feel incomplete. It’s even reduced to a gag: Ella throws her glass heel at someone as she leaves the ball in an attempt to escape. 

Rather than a story about love at first sight and magic, this is one about a woman deciding between love and her business. The final conclusion of the story is neither sweet nor fulfilling and leaves a bitter taste in the viewer’s mouth. The “so-called” commitment and romance between the two characters is never explored nor shown. Viewers are told the two characters have “maybe” fallen in love and asked to forgo all contradictory evidence. The prince also doesn’t chase after her when she leaves the ball, so that aspect of the original story is also removed. 

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Another struggle that the movie faced was attempting to relate to modern times. They created new characters and changed old ones, hoping to feel more in tune with a newer generation. The film features a younger princess named Gwen (Tallulah Greive) who wishes for the crown and strong environmental policy changes in their kingdom, a stepmother (Idina Menzel) who is not evil, rather just misunderstood and a strange arranged marriage plot: Ella is almost forcibly married off to a creepy man (Rob Beckett). Princess Gwen is a strong character, one of the highlights of this otherwise disappointing film. She stands her ground and while repeatedly shut down, always returns to fight her battles for change. 

The supporting characters bring utterly boring and trivial subplots, with one being a strange, unfunny conversation between the mice as well as a conflict between King and Queen over their marriage problems. The Queen initially believes the King lacks respect for her, but this conflict is swiftly resolved by an awkward serenading scene. If this movie is for children, it sends them the wrong messages by creating an impossible dialogue of marital issues as well as zero conflict resolution.

What the actors lacked in execution through a sagging screenplay was thankfully made up in their singing abilities. Cabello’s raspy and unique sound complimented her character’s quirks, while Galitzine sounds as a prince should: his voice is full-bodied and charming. Billy Porter’s role as Fab G, the fairy godmother, was a wonderful addition to the otherwise flat movie, bringing attitude and energy to the screen.

The dialogue of this movie is also strange, with characters switching between archaic diction and modern terms. Each time a contemporary phrase was used, it felt disconcerting and pulled viewers out of the story. 

“Cinderella” struggles to juggle modern themes while staying true to its classic source material. Unfortunately, Cannon does not manage to charmingly combine the two. In its attempt to create the perfect feminist, girlboss, dream-chasing movie, Cabello’s Cinderella strips the fairytale of its essence. Instead, it’s just a quirky Netflix-esque rom-com that should’ve starred Noah Centineo if it wanted to be so cliche. 

“Cinderella” is available to view in select theaters and on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 3, 2021.

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