21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Full of magic,
This review is from: Ever After - A Cinderella Story (DVD)Very often "realistic fantasy stories" flop like dying fish. "Ever After" is one of the few exceptions, a sparkling tale about Cinderella in a semi-historic setting, with an outstanding cast, strong script, and a delightful love story. What's a fairy tale without magic? It's "Ever After."
Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is a young girl raised alone by her father, who encourages his daughter's intelligence, curiosity and strong will. But her life takes a tragic turn when her father marries a haughty social-climber Baroness Rodmilla De Ghent (Angelica Houston), and brings her and her two daughters Marguerite and Jacqueline (Megan Dodds and Melanie Lynskey) to live with Danielle. He dies tragically of a heart attack, leaving his daughter alone with his widow. Years later, Danielle is treated like one of the servants, with whom she is a loyal friend. Her only relics of her past life are a pair of shoes and a beautiful dress left by her mother.
When one of the servants is imprisoned falsely for theft, Danielle goes to try to save him. And there, she bumps into the young Prince Henry, who is being pressured by his stuffy parents to marry -- and Rodmilla is targeting him as a potential mate for one of her daughters. But Henry falls in love with Danielle -- her intelligence, her political knowledge, her love of fun, her bravery, and her strength.As Danielle and the prince grow closer, the scheming of her stepmother threatens to destroy their relationship.
The director knows the right way to mix comedy and drama in a way that seems entirely plausible. When Henry "dumps" the Spanish princess, or when he wakes his parents with all sorts of bright plans, the audience laughs out of affectionate amusement. You like or dislike the characters exactly as the director wants you to. And he apparently knows that magic is less in plot elements than in the atmosphere -- though the setting is medieval France, there is the sort of bright, ornate look to the castle and clothes that you see in fairy tales. (The only exception is the painfully-90s gown and sparkling makeup that Danielle wears at the climax. This is medieval France, not the Butterfly prom!) The script is full of funny or tense moments, and the frequent uses of Sir Thomas More's "Utopia" add an extra dimension of realism. And, in perhaps the most brilliant move in this film, one of the stepsisters is not "wicked." Rather the chubby, not-as-pretty but good-natured Jacqueline adds a silent ally to Danielle and prevents Jacqueline and Marguerite from turning, essentially, into one character.
Drew Barrymore is exquisite as Danielle, putting on Danielle's intelligence, wit and strength with ease and believability. Thankfully Danielle is never turned into a feminist in the usual sense of the word; she is unafraid to show that she is every inch a man's equal, but the movie doesn't bash viewers with that theme. Dougray Scott is equally good as Henry, mixing pride and confusion, sweetness and boredom into a very believable young prince. Anjelica Huston is almost hammily enjoyable as Rodmilla; Dodds and Lynskey are even better as her daughters. And even Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) makes an appearance to help smooth out the course of true love.
This is a family movie in the best sense of the word. The plotline and scripting are clever enough for adults to enjoy thoroughly, but there is nothing that the kids can't watch. So get everyone together and watch this enchanting retelling.