In Kay Cannon’s musical film, Cinderella isn’t waiting for a charming prince. Her “happily ever after” lies in creating her own identity and choosing ambitions over royalty. Well, that’s how one can define a modern-day fairy tale story, “for times, they are changing.”
Directed and written by Kay Cannon, the live-action adaptation marks the debut of singer Camila Cabello. Though the musical rom-com approaches many progressive layers, it fails to flesh out any. It’s highly predictable and least impactful. As they say, the text is just words without a proper “sub-text,” which happens in one-dimensional films. It’s too thin to create an influence and hence eminently forgettable.
Set in a medieval fictional kingdom bound by traditions, the plot follows a young girl, Ella or Cinderella (as called by her stepsisters). She lives with her stepmother, Vivian, and Vivian’s daughters, Malvolia and Narissa.
Ella fancies herself as a dressmaker and thus spends most of her time in the house basement designing dresses. She wants to open her shop and call it “Dresses by Ella.” But in a patriarchal kingdom, women can’t own shops or run a business.
On the other side of the kingdom is a Prince named Robert. King Rowan wants his son to marry a girl and take over the throne. However, Robert neither finds a suitable girl to marry nor has any interest in ruling the kingdom. Contrary, his sister and Rowan’s daughter, Princess Gwen, aspires to bring civil changes to the kingdom. But again, a patriarchal kingdom isn’t ready to allow a woman to govern the subjects.
Things change when Robert sights Ella in her carefree demeanor and falls in love at first sight. The following day, he visits the village disguised as a commoner to find Ella. By god’s luck, they two interact. Robert buys Ella’s handcrafted dress and becomes her first buyer. He convinces Ella to visit the royal ball where she can find more potential customers. However, in reality, Robert wants Ella to become his queen and rule the kingdom. But is Ella ready for marriage? Especially when she knows choosing Robert will mean leaving her dreams behind.
Everything happened just like the original fairytale. Ella preserved a Caterpillar cocoon that transformed into a butterfly and magically changed into her genderless fairy godparent, Fab G. Fab G magically weaves a dress from one of Ella’s dress sketches and gives her a pair of glass shoes and a royal chariot to take her to the grand ball. But like all magic have their limits, Fab G warned Ella to leave the palace before the clock strikes midnight.
At the ball, Ella met a nobility named Tatiana, who adored her dress. When Tatiana found that Ella had designed her own dress, Tatiana offered her a job to travel with her and enliven her wardrobe. Ella promised to meet Tatiana the following day with more of her designs before Tatiana left the kingdom.
As the clock struck midnight, Ella ran away from the palace but left her glass heels behind. Without much drama, Queen Beatrice and her son Robert convinced the rigid King Rowan that he and his kingdom demand change, an evolution, of course. Rowan had a change of heart and ordered Robert to find his love with the help of the glass heels and marry her, or whatever he wanted to do.
Before Robert could find Ella, Vivian gave her away to Thomas. However, Ella managed to escape the chariot and met Robert on her way to the market square. Together, they reached the location, and Ella exhibited her designs to Tatiana. Impressed by her artistry, Tatiana invited Ella on the voyage.
Robert brought Ella to the palace to meet King Rowan and Queen Beatrice. He informed his parents that they both are going to travel the world together, and thus Robert couldn’t ascend to the throne. A receptive and transformed King Rowan accepted his plea and announced his daughter, Princess Gwen, as the kingdom’s new ruler.
In the end, everyone got what they wanted. Gwen became the new ruler, while Ella got her dream job and became a dressmaker. For Robert, he was looking for love and adventure, and hopefully, he found both in a single person. And last but not least, King Rowan got rid of his arrogant “kingish-persona.” He became a humble-hearted husband who respected his wife, Queen Beatrice.
Cinderella is a 2021 Musical Romantic Film written and directed by Kay Cannon.