A retelling of the classic story with a few modern twists, Cinderella stars Camila Cabello as the titular Ella, an aspiring dressmaker who wants to run a business of her own, despite the objections of her stepmother, Vivian (Idina Menzel). When Ella catches the eye of a disguised Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) he decides to throw a ball to try and win her over; Vivian forbids Ella from attending, but she receives a magical helping hand.
While Cinderella tries very hard to reinvigorate the old fairy tale with new themes and updated sensibilities, the scripting unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. The jokes fall flat and more often than not the dialogue is cringeworthy, but the critical flaw with the writing here is the complete absence of any narrative friction. The story has had anything that might have resembled a rough edge sanded down and sanitised, so, despite having a runtime of nearly two hours, it barely feels like anything happens at all.
Amazon Prime’s production tries to breathe new life into an old tale by adding commentary on misogyny, but, due to the frictionless plot, this commentary sorely lacks the narrative bite it needs. Much like the rest of the writing, the political messages of Cinderella play things so safe it barely feels as if anything is being said at all – the film isn’t as much a story as it is the baffling absence of one.
If there’s one thing that Cinderella does have going for it it’s a strong cast that try their absolute best to salvage the script. Cabello does a great job as Ella, using her musical talents well for a number of songs but also displaying some decent comedic chops. Idina Menzel is also a strong counterpart to Cabello as Vivian, and although this retelling can’t seem to decide if the stepmother is actually wicked, Menzel nevertheless brings as much bombastic villain flair as she can. Billy Porter is brilliant as Fab G, Ella’s fairy godparent; tragically this character only appears in one scene, but Porter makes sure to absolutely steal it. James Corden also features.
Cinderella is an ambitious movie with nice visuals and fun musical moments, but it lacks any real substance. It’s a shame, because it clearly has a message, but it’s also afraid to commit to actually sending it.
Cinderella is released on Amazon Prime Video on 3rd September 2021.
Watch the trailer for Cinderella here: