|Cinderella by Valentine Prinsep (1899)|
The twist on this adaptation for Cinderella is that there is no twist. Lily James' turn on the character isn't Drew Barrymore's forward-thinking tomboy in Ever After. She's not the boastful, pixie-cut Leslie Caron in 1955's tongue-in-cheek, The Glass Slipper. She's not the flustered, conflicted heroine of Rossini's opera, La Cenerentola (1817).
Speaking of which, unlike the various adaptations of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, while Cinderella sings in the film's climactic reveal, there's no big production numbers featuring Whitney Houston.
Lily James is dewey-eyed and insurmountably uncomplicated. Her worst offense is earning the disdain of her stepsisters by chatting happily to mice when she doesn't see anyone else around.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
At least Branaugh adds more definition to her than Disney's 1950 animated Cinderella, the one with which this film claims kinship. The animated main character of that feature is perfectly likeable the way Daphne from the original 1969 Scooby-Doo is likeable. Both are capable and nice (or at least, as Jessica Rabbit would purr, "drawn that way") but neither are designed to express much opinion outside the demands of the plot. They're charitable and kind because we never see anything denoting the contrary. They're pretty designs with a negative space where a character would be. Lily James' take is more animated than her cartoon counterpart.