Fantasy starring Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Chaplin and Hayley Atwell. Screening at Seahouses Hub on Saturday, April 25; Berwick Maltings from Friday, May 1, to Sunday, My 17; and Alnwick Playhouse on Tuesday, May 12..
Slavishly adapted from Disney’s classic 1950 animated musical, Kenneth Branagh’s live action version of the fairy-tale romance doesn’t skimp on the period detail.
Sandy Powell’s luxurious costumes, Dante Ferretti’s opulent set designs and Patrick Doyle’s sweeping orchestral score conjure a magical world of unerring love in which even we gasp at the gargantuan splendour of the grand ball where the prince must choose his wife.
While this Cinderella unquestionably dazzles the senses, screenwriter Chris Weitz is shackled to fond memories of the hand-drawn film and consequently, he has almost no room for flourishes of originality.
The plot arc is predetermined, the ugly stepsisters don’t hack off their heels or toes to squeeze into a misplaced glass slipper, and Helena Bonham Carter’s fairy godmother isn’t quite as eccentric as she or we would like as she engineers the film’s best set-piece with a flick of her wand.
‘I don’t go transforming pumpkins for just anyone!’ she chirps. No, the special effects wizards do and they accomplish the pivotal sequence with aplomb. With the tale of Cinders one of the most familiar to young and old alike what follows is hardly a spoiler – we all know about the Prince’s lavish ball where Ella, played delightfully by Lily James, who was in Alnwick last summer for the filming of Downton Abbey, in which she stars as Lady Rose, makes her grand entrance then disappears as the clock chimes midnight, leaving behind footwear that would surely pose a health and safety risk in any other film.
‘Find that girl – the forgetful one who loses her shoes!’ decrees the Captain of the royal guard (Nonzo Anosie).
Cinderella will enchant a generation of girls, who dream of donning the tiara of a Disney princess.
James and Madden are an attractive screen pairing, while Blanchett draws inspiration from Joan Crawford to cast a formidable shadow from beneath the brim of her character’s extravagant hats.
‘I do love a happy ending, don’t you?’ gushes one of the characters.
Branagh’s film certainly does, without a hint of irony.
Star rating: 5/5
Screening at 3pm at Seahouses Hub on Saturday, April 25; Berwick Maltings from Friday, May 1, to Sunday, May 17, at 6pm; and Alnwick Playhouse at 7.30pm on Tuesday, May 12; and at Alnwick Playhouse at 7.30pm on Tuesday, May 12.