BEFORE: Now I'm hard-pressed to wonder why I didn't include these fairy-tale films in my February chain - where I had another film with Anne Hathaway ("Bride Wars") and two other films with Drew Barrymore ("Riding in Cars With Boys" and "Music and Lyrics"). They could have really helped me out with more linking possibilities. But now that I think about it, I don't think I had a copy of tonight's film back then, I added it more recently, to fill up a DVD with "Riding in Cars With Boys".
But, if you think about it, if I'd dropped these films into February, then I wouldn't have them now, when I need them to help link between Easter and Mother's Day. Maybe everything does happen for a reason, even my (perceived) mistakes. The character of Cinderella carries over from "Ella Enchanted".
THE PLOT: The "real" story of Cinderella - with the sudden death of her loving father, Danielle is made a servant by her new stepmother, and one day her path crosses that of handsome Prince Henry, who has troubles of his own.
AFTER: Well, if last night's film fell more on the magical side, with all of its elves and fairies and other mythical creatures, then this one seems to be the polar opposite - there's no magic, no fairy godmother, no pumpkin turning into a carriage. It's an attempt to ground the Cinderella story in a historical context, to show a way that it "could" have happened that would have inspired a fairy tale to spring up around it. It's a bunch of bull, for sure, but I sort of appreciate the attempt.
This means someone had to find a substitute for the Fairy Godmother, someone real and smart and able to give good advice - and they settled on Leonardo Da Vinci, for whatever reason, relocating him from Italy to France for the duration of the story. And for some reason he carries the Mona Lisa around with him when he travels - well, I suppose it did take him about a decade to get that smile just right. In addition to serving as the voice of reason, Da Vinci helps design some accessories for Danielle's dress (because we all know Da Vinci for his fashion sense, right?) and also clues the Prince in on how to change his attitude, and passes along the lost glass slipper to him.
Thankfully, there's no country-wide search for the woman with the correct size foot here, the slipper merely given back to the Cinderella character as a token of the Prince's love. But it's still unrealistic that the Prince would accept her as a mate, given her status as a commoner, which was outside the parameters of a wife given to him by his parents. We all know that exceptions like this weren't made until Wallis Simpson and Diana Spencer came along.
Like last night's film, there's only SO much PC-based debate that the audience should be expected to endure, especially when it's anachronistic. Lives of servitude for normal people were quite commonplace, and people had stations that they just weren't allowed to rise above, whether they've read Thomas More's "Utopia" or not. I doubt that most commoners even knew how to read back then, but hey, it helps move along the story, I guess. And for someone in the 16th century to have such forward-thinking ideas about equality and human rights, it's just quite hard to swallow. And boring.
NITPICK POINT: If Danielle's mother was a countess, and her stepmother is a baroness, then why isn't she considered some kind of royalty herself? Admittedly, I don't know how that whole peerage system worked in 16th-century France, but if she's got some kind of lineage, why can't she at least refer to it when introducing herself to the Prince? It should at least mean that she's a few steps above a commoner, but either she doesn't want to draw on it, or she's unaware that she might be from noble blood, sort of. But she uses her mother's "comtesse" as her alias when she deals with the Prince, so she must know.
NITPICK POINT #2: If Rodmilla, the stepmother, was the one selling off the furniture items around the household, like the candlesticks, to that creepy landowner guy, then why was she so surprised when these objects were disappearing? This was a little side-plot that just made no sense.
Starring Drew Barrymore (last seen in "Music and Lyrics"), Dougray Scott (last seen in "Taken 3"), Anjelica Huston (last seen in "The Big Year"), Megan Dodds (last seen in "The Rat Pack"), Melanie Lynskey (last seen in "They Came Together"), Patrick Godfrey (last seen in "Mr. Turner"), Timothy West (last seen in "102 Dalmatians"), Judy Parfitt, Jeroen Krabbé, Lee Ingleby (also last seen in "Mr. Turner"), Toby Jones (last seen in "Muppets Most Wanted"), Peter Gunn (last seen in "24 Hour Party People"), Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff!), Jeanne Moreau, Walter Sparrow (last seen in "Shadowlands").
RATING: 4 out of 10 thieving gypsies