As a true Cinderella/ Rapunzel gal, it was going to be verrrry hard to stump Kenneth Branaugh’s 2015 Cinderella visually. Seriously, I could write a book on how that film’s cinematography inspired me in ways I never knew something could. On top of that, Lily James’s stellar performance of Cindy’s quiet resilience and graceful demeanor was beyond a wet dream for a die hard fan.
That said, I am a feminist and while I can recognize Cindy’s wish to just go have a nice time at the medieval equivalent of a frat party, I can 100% get behind Emma Watson’s Belle for wanting adventure in the great wide somewhere, and a perfect choice for the face of the next generation of young girls we are currently raising. Hopefully, thanks to women like Watson, a generation of go-getters and dreamers and strong, powerful girls who don’t always need no man, but can have one if they so choose.
While I hate hate hate auto tune and how they dubbed Watson’s subpar singing voice a tad too much (I was worried the bass would drop at some point), the revamp of beloved songs was enough for me to tear up a little and mouth the words with the film. A nice step up from Cinderella’s barely glossed over “Lavender’s Blue” and “Sing Sweet Nightingale” if you ask me. The handful of new songs helped to keep a verrrrrry over done story a little fresh, and some of the fun twists in the subplots really won me over.
Something I’d like to acknowledge for a minute is the one subplot in particular, relating to LeFou’s sexuality in particular and how important it is to continue to uphold modern changes to keep up with new generations. That said, this more flamboyant and boyish lovestruck LeFou we are exposed to is not the threat of this story. Let’s always remember how it is Gaston who is always the bad guy, and what makes him so horrible is his manipulative and narcissistic ways. We don’t need to be teaching our kids that LeFou is a bad guy for falling for Gaston’s manipulations, we need to teach them how Gaston is evil for taking someone else’s feelings (LeFou clearly has a crush on the oafish villain) for granted and using them to play into his narrative. Let’s remind our kids that vanity is a danger to sustainable relationships with yourself and others, and that men who do not try to understand, empathize, and uplift women rarely win the girl (and, for that matter, that girls are not a prize to be won).
Another of the little twists ideally enjoyed was the enchanted book the Beast was gifted from the Enchantress, that allowed for him and Belle to visit the crumbling Parisian home she once inhabited, and found the true reason her mother was left behind in Paris. While this was very quickly touched on to further the similarities between Belle and Beast, I wish there was more in-depth use of the book. It seemed like an interesting little tool that maybe could have changed up the story’s pace, or have been omitted altogether if looked at more critically (it was kind of pointless and would have saved time for the two characters to just chat about the loss of their mothers).
Back to visuals, I have to say that the visuals were pretty spectacular, if still lacking from Cinderella. Tobias Schliessler, not known for much beyond a crap sequel to the already crap Candyman and for the upcoming A Wrinkle In Time, really did what he could to get captivating close ups in a very busy storybook world. While I’ll try not to do a side-by-side of these two films, it still is important to acknowledge the similarity in tone, and if we wanted something as similar to Cinderella why not use Haris Zambarloukos, who already had quite a few notable films under his belt prior to Cindy?
For a fresh take on a tale as old as time, and for empowering young girls to be adventurers.