ANN – ‘Cinderella’ looks terrific, but otherwise drags

‘Cinderella’ looks terrific, but otherwise dragsPerhaps the best-known fairy tale of all time has been given a lush, if lifeless, production in andldquoCinderella,andrdquo an opulent reimagining that spares nothing in the way of color, texture and rich visual value, but rarely manages to quicken its own pulse or that of the audience.The solemn-looking Lily James plays the title character, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and his delicate wife.

In a magical land similar to 19th-century Britain, she grows up talking to animals, charming her parents and striving to fulfill her devoted motherand#39s wishes that she display courage and, above all, be kind.andldquoThere is power in kindness,andrdquo the older woman says wisely.

When tragedy befalls the family and her father remarries, the new blended family — including a style-conscious stepmother and her two vain and silly daughters — is enough to put even Cinderellaand#39s most faultless virtues severely to the test.Director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz clearly have tried to bring the old story into line with 21st century feminist values: Far from a passive victim waiting to be saved by the handsome prince, their Cinderella is a paragon of quiet integrity and insight.

But the lovely and fundamentally uninteresting James is no match for the fire and elemental venom exuded by Cate Blanchettand#39s evil stepmother, who is by far the filmand#39s most interesting character With her chartreuse and green wardrobe, scarlet gash of a rictus grin and darting fits of cruelty, she seems to have beamed into andldquoCinderellaandrdquo as if from a 1950s Douglas Sirk melodrama into a cozy Merchant Ivory period dramaBranagh tries his best to infuse andldquoCinderellaandrdquo with energy, from having his characters compulsively swirl and spin in otherwise static scenes to the palace intrigue and power plays that take the place of conventional romance. He even tries to inject some humor (yes, thatand#39s Rob Bryden in a cameo role, and Helena Bonham Carter hiding behind a hideous pair of prosthetic teeth), but to no avail.

For all its gossamer, gauze, filigree and refinement, andldquoCinderellaandrdquo drags when it should skip as lightly as its title character when sheand#39s late getting home from the ball.Two stars out of four (c) The Washington Post 201.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman