The latest Cinderella adaptation is a jukebox musical with Camila Cabello in the lead, who wishes to be a successful dressmaker in a very conservative, patriarchal world. Written and directed by Kay Cannon, the film takes some liberties with the plot of the fairytale, but its “wokeness” falls relatively flat. Nevertheless, it still succeeds at being moderately entertaining with its boundless enthusiasm and passion for song and dance.
The Cinderella in this tale spends her free time designing and making clothes while her stepmother tries to marry her off. It turns out that the society is pretty regressive, where women have little freedom or respect. Meanwhile, Prince Robert has a tiff with his father because he does not want to marry for political convenience. When the Prince buys one of Cinderella’s dresses at the marketplace, they share a connection, and she is invited to the fabled ball.
Image credit: Amazon Prime Video
But the movie doesn’t exactly “reinterpret” the classic tale, per se. Cinderella’s world is so regressive that a few tokenistic gestures aren’t enough to topple the status quo or redeem the sexist male characters. It does a nice job of villainizing the stepmother a little less, but the two stepsisters lack character and are still forgettable. While the songs are fun and the modern idiom feels rather “cool,” this adaptation is neither contemporary nor modern.
To make the message of female empowerment even more clear, it introduces the one-dimensional character of Gwen as the Prince’s sister, who is stated to be keenly interested in running a kingdom but only gets the throne when the brother isn’t in the picture. In short, the film’s feminism feels shoddy and half-baked.
Nevertheless, the movie looks quite gorgeous. Cabello and Idina Menzel give commendable performances, while Billy Porter is memorably fabulous as the godmother. Overall, the film might be a good fit for a singalong but not for much else.
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