Cinderella (2015)

(In French, Video-On-Demand, September 2006) It’s easy to feel cynical about Disney’s newest mania in remaking their animation classics in live-action form: it reeks of mindless exploitation, of post-creative consumerism and bankrupt innovation.  But it’s always best to see the result before kvetching, and Cinderella makes the disarming choice to revisit the original but keep its heartfelt core.  So it is that there’s barely a hint of snark or revisionism here, and the film consciously seeks to re-tell the same story while hitting the same points along the way.  This version of Cinderella, for instance, wisely provide a lot more background on the happy childhood of its heroine, making it even more affecting when she’s relegated to the status of menial labour.  It expands subplots, adds character depth, tones down the musical numbers, doesn’t completely anthropomorphise its animal relief and messes just enough with the glass slipper climax to keep things interesting for viewers who (ahem) have toddler-watched the original fifty times in the past 18 months.  Cate Blanchett is deliciously evil at the wicked stepmother, but Lily James holds her own as the titular Cinderella.  Then there’s the amazing production design of the film, presenting a sumptuous fairy tale to the screen: There are images here fit to wow anyone, from the Swarovski glass slipper to the golden Pumpkin carriage to amazing castle flybys.  Nearly every frame is a painting (to borrow a phrase) and the beautiful result deserves to be watched.  As a result, the two Cinderella films each get to keep their own identity, which is as good as one can hope for in a remake.  Not only good on its own, Cinderella manages not to desecrate anything in its wake.  Kids will enjoy it (although one notes that it aims at a slightly older audience than the original), but so will their parent.  

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