By: Saanvi Mirchandani | September 20, 2021
On Sept. 3, Amazon Prime released a modern remake of the Disney classic, “Cinderella.” The film is written and directed by Kay Cannon who is well known for working on the hit movie “Pitch Perfect.” Camila Cabello stars as Cinderella in her acting debut alongside Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter, and Pierce Brosnan. The movie is a romantic musical and features many popular songs as well as several original songs.
Since its release, the movie has received mixed reviews. The retelling of the classic story focuses on modernizing Cinderella’s character. In this adaptation, Cinderella is focused on owning her own dress business. She sings “You’re Gonna Know my Name,” in an original opening number, as she imagines a bazaar shop called Dresses by Ella.
The screenplay by producer/director Kay Cannon dulls everyone’s characters to give Cinderella more aspirations, humor, and independence. Everyone in the film lacks character development, and Cannon filled the movie with more songs than interactions between characters. Each character only has one prominent trait throughout the film; the king is dictatorial, the queen is frustrated with the king, the princess has knowledge of public policy, and the fairy god-person is extravagant. The prince, played by Nicholas Galitzine, is only known for being handsome and is consistently labeled as “The King’s Idiot Son.”
The big, bright dance numbers throughout the film serve as a distraction from these one-dimensional characters. Despite the star-studded cast, the performances throughout the film were lackluster. The songs were well sung, but towards the middle of the movie, music is overused as a desperate way to keep the audience engaged.
Broadway veteran, Idina Menzel, played the stepmother. The film attempts to redeem the stepmother about three-quarters of the way through and it did not contribute to significant character development. She aims to relate with Cinderella by explaining how she had dreams to be a professional musician that she had to give up to get married. The stepmother could have been the most compelling character in the entire film if only the writing gave her enough room to grow and develop. She should have been able to transition from an evil character to a supporter of Cinderella’s dreams.
Camila Cabello also struggles to play the role of Cinderella. Casting Cabello for this role seems questionable since her lack of acting experience is obvious for the entire movie. She is a talented singer but constantly overacts and exaggerates emotions in every scene. While the dialogue was modernized it was dim-witted. It would have been easy to have a sharp and witty script to go along with the new storyline that paints Cinderella as an empowered woman, rather than a wide-eyed dream-come-true princess.
Despite all the negative aspects of the film, the stunning wardrobe is a mix of modern and classic styles and colors. The ball where the prince finds Ella, had various gorgeous costume designs. Some of the best outfits include an entirely black ball gown made of fluffy tulle worn by a bald dancer with gold leaf adorning her head and a pink and gold sari-inspired gown worn by a dancer with striking eye makeup, dark red lipstick, and a show-stopping golden tiara. The costumes alone are magnificent enough to focus on while ignoring some of the more disappointing elements of the film.
The idea of a modern “Cinderella” film with feminist twists is a good one, though it is poorly executed. Attempts to be funny and relatable during the film felt forced and fell flat, while Cabello’s acting was underwhelming. Star actors like Menzel were not used to their full potential and none of the songs throughout the movie contributed to the overall story development.
Overall, this remake was a disappointment and I would not recommend watching it.
“Cinderella” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.