Cinderella movie review: Camilla Cabello film’s biggest failure is its lack of ambition

screenmixSeptember 3, 2021

Cinderella movie cast: Camia Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, Billy Porter, James Cordon, Tallulah Greive, Idina Menzel
Cinderella movie director: Kay Canon
Cinderella movie rating: 2 stars

One of the world’s oldest, happiest fairytales gets a 21st-century makeover that any fairy godmother would be proud of. Cinderella (Camilla Cabello) remains pretty, acquires an independent streak, and still gets to be the belle of the ball. The Prince (Nicholas Galitzine) gets some say, more understanding parents (Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver), and yet remains rich. The kingdom sheds its old-fashioned tag but gets no real revolution. And everyone gets to dress well, sing beautifully, and dance a pretty step.

You might well ask why one needs this oft-told story to recast old concepts of a woman’s place in the world, the desire to find oneself, do one’s own thing, and be other than a wife and mother. But the film’s biggest failure is not its lack of imagination. That would be its lack of ambition. Canon’s musical, with its pretty ordinary music, wants its characters leaping, but not high enough so as to break through its pink taffeta-and-glass slipper ceiling. It doesn’t even want anyone raising their voice high enough to cause a crack.

Even Cinderella (her name is Ella but household chores leave her covered in cinders) wants no more than to be a dressmaker for pretty things, even as the few designs on display are multitudes of the same kind. The Prince’s sister (Greive), the prettiest of them all and portrayed as the potential leader, is saddled with a naive, rosy-eyed view regarding the things she wants to change.

The musical’s nicest touch is humanising the stepmother. Menzel’s stepmother is a widow who has learnt the hard way to not want too much but settle for marrying rich, a lesson she tries hard to instil in her two daughters and even wants for Cinderella.

The bright, chirpy and unconventionally pretty Cabello and the rather anodyne Galitzine share a warm chemistry that would serve a better film well.

But one wonders how Cinderella the film would have turned out had the Prince gone ahead and married a Princess who drops in early on with a proposition to him to tie the knot with her so that they can expand their kingdoms — bringing along a world map to help explain the concept to him. She even offers to do all the fighting, leaving him to fool around with his friends. He never gets around to hearing her out.
No, the world is not ready for some fairytales.