Kenneth Branagh’s take on “Cinderella” is a fine example of filmmaking restraint. Although the story’s plot is thin (it’s based on a fairytale, after all), everything works in favor to its formation. Nothing more, nothing less. The stepsisters are believably spoiled and provide ample humor to counter the titular character’s episodes of drama. Helena Bonham Carter’s fairy godmother is not done excessively (thank heavens). And the stepmother, ah, Cate Blanchett is spot-on. Her character brings to us this history of scorn and bitterness that, in reality, could sometimes grip our hearts. We have all been a wicked stepmother once in our lives, unable to let go of that shred of memory that could haunt us and make us unsheathe our claws in defense. Also, Lily James’ Cinderella presents a rare angle in 21st century feminism: she does not have bows and arrows, no powerful wings, no ice powers. There is no need to be extra rebellious. What she has is inner strength, a command of choice, and an awareness of that choice’s consequences. She knows what she wants.
It’s all good, really, and it is easy to say this “Cinderella” is a great leap of improvement over the past live-action versions of Disney’s animated classics. It does not have the narrative problem of “Alice in Wonderland”  and the heavy-handedness that plagued “Maleficent” . Execs at Disney finally got it right. One could only wish that for future projects they would follow the movie’s guiding motif: Have courage and be kind—have courage to tackle a classic but kind enough to respect the source material. (Note: Disney must keep on hiring actors from the cast of “Downton Abbey.”)
[ image lifted from here ]