After both of her parents died, Ella (Lily James) is left to live with her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two stepsisters, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Granger). Her stepmother and stepsisters treat her more like a servant than family. They are the ones who give her the nickname “Cinderella,” to mock her dirty appearance.
One day, while Cinderella is riding her horse through the forest, she meets Kit (Richard Madden), who is out hunting. The two have an instant attraction. What Cinderella doesn’t realize is that Kit is actually a prince.
When the king (Derek Jacobi) plans a ball to pair Kit up with a princess, Kit requests to extend the invitation to the entire kingdom, hoping to see the mysterious girl from the forest again. Of course, Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters plan to attend the ball, sending Cinderella to fetch gowns for them.
When it comes time to leave for the ball, Cinderella is left in a torn dress, thanks to her Drisella and Anastasia. When all hope is lost for Cinderella, her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) appears, providing her with a beautiful gown and a carriage so she can attend the ball. The only catch, the spell only lasts until midnight.
Disney takes the classic animated Cinderella and turns it into a charming live-action movie. They opted against going with a dark, gritty reboot, as we saw with the likes of Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror. Instead, we get a fairly straight forward retelling of the classic. Watching Cinderella lose both her parents is about as dark as the film gets. But, it is a Disney film, after all, so that is to be expected.
They chose an almost perfect cast for the film. Lily James and Richard Madden have good chemistry as a prince who wants to marry for love, and a girl who wants to be loved. Neither are over the top in their characters. And neither are overly flashy. Cate Blanchett does well as the wicked stepmother. She keeps the extent of her wickedness subtle, until she can no longer contain it.
The shining star of the film would have to be Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother. She brings just enough of her quirkiness to make her character funny and lovable, without delving into some of the darker traits we’ve seen in so many of her other characters. If I had one complaint about the movie, it would be that she was in it for such a short time.
This latest version of Cinderella is something the whole family can enjoy. It stays faithful to the original and doesn’t follow the trend of amping up the story to appeal to older crowds. We are given a charming, enjoyable move that will please even the 5-year-old princess lovers.