03 August 2015

Ever After (starring Drew Barrymore)

Browsing around on Amazon, as you do, I was recommended this film. It sounded pleasant, it starred Drew Barrymore, and it was rated PG. Reviews were mostly positive so it went on my wishlist and I was given it a couple of years ago. It’s taken until this long to decide to watch it.

However, last night we wanted something light and relaxing, so curled up in the air conditioning to watch ‘Ever After’. Billed as a ‘Cinderella’ story, that’s exactly what it was - with a difference. There’s no fairy godmother in this, no pumpkin turning into a carriage. Indeed, special effects are noticeable by their absence.

Instead, it’s topped and tailed by a discussion between an elderly monarch and a couple of writers; the monarch wants them to know the ‘truth’ about the story of Cinderella, which, she says, happened to one of her ancestors.

The majority of the film is then set in Mediaeval times - probably around 1500, since one of the significant characters is the elderly artist Leonardo da Vinci. We first meet young Danielle, aged ten, looking forward to her father returning home after a lengthy trip, bringing a new wife and her two daughters. The meeting is a little awkward, but the sisters are far from ugly; it’s Danielle herself who, as a complete tomboy, appears covered in mud after having been chasing her friend across the fields.

Danielle’s father dies suddenly, shocking his family, and the story then moves forward some years. Danielle (Drew Barrymore) and her stepsisters are now in their late teens, and while Danielle isn’t exactly abused or locked in cupboards, she’s treated very much like a servant, expected to fetch and carry for her stepmother and sisters. Even so, the younger of the sisters - Georgina - is quite kind-hearted.

Danielle remains unspoilt and quite outspoken, and manages to attract the attention of Prince Henry in various ways, long before the ball at which he plans to announce his betrothal. There are twists and turns to the story which, in context, make a whole lot more sense than the traditional fairytale.

My only real problem with the film is that there wasn’t much chemistry between Danielle and the Prince; she seems at times like a naive child, and he is remarkably self-centred. It made sense that he appreciates her outspokenness and intellectual abilities, and is captivated by her looks, and their friendship certainly works. But the sudden 'falling in love' and kisses never feel entirely real.

The settings and costumes are excellent, with Mediaeval life well portrayed, and the snootiness of Danielle’s stepmother, a wonderful caricature, is quite amusing. Overall it made an enjoyable evening’s viewing.

The rating is PG which seems right: there’s no nudity, only the mildest of bad language, and the kisses are never anything other than chaste. However there are some traumatic scenes that could disturb some children, and a fair amount of violence, as well as threats, but no real gore.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's DVD Reviews

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