Ever After - A Cinderella Story
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This enchanting contemporary retelling of the classic fairy tale stars Barrymore as a savvy, modern young woman of the 16th Century whose strength and courage work magic on the lives of all those around her including the crown prince of France.
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There are many aspects of the film that are well-done, but the major problem with it is the lead actress, Drew Barrymore. It's not that she can't act or doesn't look the part; it's her private life, the lurid details of which are now public knowledge (e.g., in rehab by age 13!).
That being the case, it's virtually impossible to take her seriously as an innocent princess. In fact, it's hard to sit through this movie and think of anything other than the irony -- even preposterousness -- of what you're watching. Perhaps, the filmmakers reasoned, the silliness of this will be lost on the moppet audience to which the movie is geared.
The chief merit of the film, I submit, is Anjelica Houston's chilling and utterly convincing performance as the evil step-mother. The problem there, however, is that it's so well-done that the movie seems to depress you more than it uplifts you, which it does try to do at the end, when everything of course turns out all right.
A net bummer, in other words.
Danielle De Barbarac (Drew Barrymore) lives alone with her father and their servants after the death of her mother, until one day her father brings home a new bride, the Baroness Rodmilla De Ghent (Anjelica Huston) and her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline. When Danielle's father dies, the Baroness turns Danielle into a servant to wait on her and her spoiled daughters.
Danielle accidently meets young Prince Henry (Dougray Scott) when the Prince pilfers a horse from their manor in order to escape his parents restrictions. For her silence, he gives her coins, which she uses to pose as a courtier to buy back their old servant the Baroness sold to pay her taxes.
She meets Prince Henry again, but this time posed as a Lady, and Henry finds himself enchanted not simply by her beauty but by her intelligence and spirit. He becomes determined to know more about her, but first must find her for she keeps slipping away from him. In the meantime, Marguerite has set her sights on the handsome prince, with the help of her mother and a michevious courtier.
I won't give away any more of the movie, but absolutely must mention that there is a great deal of humor in this unique telling of the Cinderella story (take special note of the wedding chapel scene with the Spanish Princess). The acting is supurb and the script very tight and well written, the costumes are stunning, the scenery is breathtaking, and the photography brilliant.
Overall, this is a wonderful movie that softened even my cold, hard heart, allowing it to pump warm blood if only for the length of the movie. This is a love story without sappiness, a handsome hero with faults of his own, and a beautiful heroine who knows how to save herself. Enjoy!
I guess all that is nitpicking, but it really bugged me and took quite a bit of entertainment value out of what's otherwise a very charming movie.