Cinderella | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


A fairy tale that advises: Say yes to the dress

Kenneth Branagh directs this straightforward but lush adaptation of the classic fairy tale about the overworked girl granted a magical night at the ball. Downton Abbey's Lily James (a.k.a. Lady Rose) plays Cinderella, and she's perfectly sweet (and teeny-waisted) in this lightly written, passive role. Stealing every scene she's in is Cate Blanchett, as the nasty step-mom who owns every stitch of her 1940s-inspired sculpted gowns. Besides the blessed absence of Radio Disney-ready songs, it's the costumes (by Sandy Powell) that really are this film's most winning feature — from the adorable cartoony matching outfits worn by Cinderella's silly step-sisters to the Swarovski-and-spun-sugar confection that is Cinderella's ball gown. The film wants you to believe that Cinderella's value is her disposition, but let's face it: It's not her kindness to animals that knocks them speechless at the ball — it's looking pretty in a fancy dress.

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