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EVER AFTER:
A CINDERELLA STORY
5 Stars

Drew - Happy Ever After?Stars: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, Patrick Godfrey, Jeanne Moreau, Melanie Lynskey, Megan Dodds
Director: Andy Tennant
Certificate: PG
Running Time: 2hrs 02mins
Opening Date: October 9

Cinderella Realistic Style.

What a brilliant idea! Tell the age-old Cinderella fairy-tale as if it were hard historical fact, get rid of all the pantomime sorcery (pumpkins turning into glass coaches, etc), and dump the more contemporary additions of comical sidekicks like Buttons. Miraculously, under director Tenant’s lavish re-invention, the result of this fine-tuning allows the core romance to shine even brighter without losing any of the myth’s magical qualities.

Told in flashback by Moreau, it’s all here: Rodmilla the wicked stepmother (Huston), her two spoilt daughters Marguerite and Jacqueline (Dodds and Lynskey), their step-sister Danielle (Barrymore) relegated to servitude when her beloved father dies, and charming Prince Henry (Scott) bowled over by the plucky Cinders’s intelligence and well-read opinions after they meet by accident.

What makes this such a stunning success is the marvellous script which touches the fable’s key points for comfortable familiarity yet smartly spins off into its own engaging territory. Here, the strongly resolute Danielle is painted in very modern colours, unafraid to take the moral high ground despite her reduced circumstances.

Nor is step-sister Jacqueline evil in any respect; she simply goes with the Rodmilla/Marguerite flow. Meanwhile, Henry’s torn conscience is provided by artist Leonardo Da Vinci (Godfrey), a patron of the French court and the clever bridge between outmoded royal thinking and necessary social change.

In the same way director Baz Luhrman updated Romeo + Juliet for a contemporary audience, Tenant gives a new freshness and vitality to the glass slipper legend and Barrymore is outstanding in the lead role. With charisma to spare, she breathes feisty new life into her antique heroine. As for the remarkable Huston, who else could take such a classic role and mint it anew without resorting to caricature? Scott cuts a dashing figure too as the rugged object of every fair maiden in the land’s affections.

Handsomely mounted, and worth seeing for the epic Grand Ball scene alone where Danielle makes a sensational appearance in glitter, chiffon and fairy wings, Ever After… is an impressive recreation of a much-loved ‘Once Upon A Time’ staple which through care and attention has been given an extra potent romantic kick.

EVER AFTER photo copyright 20th-Century Fox
Alan Jones

Read our 17-page review section in this month's Film Review

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