I literally just got finished talking about mass entertainment and loss of aura in film theory class this week and as soon as I do, here comes Cinderella (2021). And what do you know, this Amazon Prime original fits into both categories perfectly: mass entertainment because it once again tries to force-feed this cold, corporate synergetic view on feminism without making it universal or appealing to ANY gender and loss of aura because the damn film is so discombobulated on its own identity to where, I’m just gonna say it, this shouldn’t have even been called Cinderella.
Camilla Cabello gets kind of dull really quickly and not even her better than average voice could trump that. Minnie Driver is criminally underutilized, Pierce Brosnan is wooden throughout, Nicholas Galitzine is honestly just subpar and the less I chirp on about James Cordan, the better. Only Billy Porter and Idina Menzel are, from a bird’s eye view, the solid ones here.
Even with that great cast lineup and two standout performances, it doesn’t exactly help that all of their characters are just lesser shoehorned versions of these altered portrayals with Billy Porter’s, unfortunately being the worst offender, crossing the line from pandering to LGBTQ to just being an outright offensive stereotype.
Production design had a nice quasi-medieval aesthetic to its geographical settings, somewhat reminiscent of the time setting the original story is set in but then the costumes come into play, looking flamboyantly unimaginative and just strips away the entire appeal. On top of that, the interior scenes are filmed at actual stately manor houses, while "town" scenes were obviously on Pinewood Studios' backlot. This is Disney Channel Original Movie style of lazy and the lack of style and artistic flair only cheapens the already tainted visual appeal.
Its attempts to clash modernized culture with the old and timely could’ve worked, even with the over-the-top theatrics but then it constantly blares a loud siren next to my ear, reminding me how badly it wants to be Ella Enchanted and Kay Cannon’s direction grows more uninspired, distracting and disjointed as the minutes and the minutes and the minutes crawl on.
Pacing is a complete slugfest, tone is all over the place and is often ruined by misplaced jokes that works as a huge detriment to the characters, there’s unpolished dialogue that’s rather dubious in hindsight and then there are the songs.
The song choices from the different eras is, again, reminiscent of Ella Enchanted just without the charm and sentimentality: odd musical numbers where the songs don’t flow together, Moulin Rouge style editing, badly lip-synced, no sense of irony, and the fact they tried to pull a ‘Hamilton’ on the choreography made every single musical aspect feel fake and staged in every conceivable step of the way.
I guess I can’t really fault the metronomic editing and the fucking camera, the latter of which keeps filming people dancing from the waist UP most of the time but I digress.
Now I’m sure we’re all familiar with the theme of Cinderella, right? Kindness towards all, forgiving others for doing wrong, and never letting bad things ruin your heart; luck changing your life. The original Cinderella was an abuse survivor; her stepfamily tormented, humiliated and trashed her all her life to make her seem like she was nothing but they simply couldn’t break her spirit and she remained perseverant throughout…..and through that perseverance, she was eventually rewarded with an ample taste of what it was like to be free again. She is your definitive definition of a strong woman.
Of course, they couldn’t leave it at that.
They had to push and shove and persist with the intent of repeatedly beating us over the head with the rejection of formerly traditional roles like a Quan Chi fatality, desperately trying to tailor one group of people without excluding all the others and alienating them both in the process. The problem is less the fact that it exists and more on just how persistent and excessive the writers are over with getting this point across.
It’s maddening that a film branding itself with the premise about treating women with respect and as equals also disregards it so quickly when you consider that consent goes both ways; the fact that barely anyone in this film has a distinct personality and there’s hardly any intrigue or good pacing further cripples whatever structure this has.
While nowhere near as preachy or overbearing as the Black Christmas remake, Cinderella is still a social message with a movie attached to it rather than the other way around. It’s a parody of feminism, diversity, and LGBTQ masquerading as the Cinderella story while pretending to be something deeper and with all the subtlety of a chainsaw, revels in its own mediocrity.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with its messages at the forefront and it’s hokey meta-phase playing off of how cringey it can get got a few unironic chuckles out of me but there’s such a giant wall of irreverent ‘I’m so random’ wackiness paired with so much actively damaging character work that everything became a chore to sit through.