25 August 2018

FABULOUS FILMS PRESENTS: EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY. (1998) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY. (1998) DIRECTED BY ANDY TENNANT. BASED ON 'CINDERELLA' BY CHARLES PERRAULT. STARRING DREW BARRYMORE, DOUGRAY SCOTT, ANJELICA HUSTON, JUDY PARFITT, TIMOTHY WEST, MEGAN DODDS, MELANIE LYNSKEY, RICHARD O'BRIEN, PATRICK GODFREY AND JEANNE MOREAU.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a ballsier re-telling of the famous Cinderella fairytale story than some others you might have seen. Drew Barrymore plays the central Cinderella character, known here as Danielle de Barbarac, as more of a feminist and would-be social reformer than other Cinderellas, and she's actually quite spirited and good at it.

The story is set in sixteenth-century France instead of in some mythical faraway Kingdom, and some of the characters are named after various Kings, Queens and Princes of France, but they've been proven to be inaccurate as historical characters and are therefore just characters who happen to have the names of some long-dead members of French royalty, if you get me.

A word about Charles Perrault (1628-1703), the French author who wrote CINDERELLA. Apparently he was the Daddy of the fairytale genre with his oeuvres (d'you like that, it's French!) derived from folk tales. He was a huge influence on the Brothers Grimm, who came along about a century later.

Although I didn't know this until today, he actually wrote not only CINDERELLA but also LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, PUSS IN BOOTS, BLUEBEARD and my favourite of all the fairytales, SLEEPING BEAUTY, which was adapted into a gorgeous ballet by Tchaikovsky.

Some historical characters appear in EVER AFTER too, like Leonardo Da Vinci, painter of the Mona Lisa and inventor of various wacky but ingenious contraptions, and the aforementioned Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob, by whom the film is book-ended.

Jeanne Moreau as the Grande Dame is telling the Brothers the story of Danielle de Barbarac, her great-great grandmother and therefore a real-life person who once lived her life and was not merely a mythical character in a fairytale, a character who never existed.

Danielle is a pretty little eight-year-old when her widowed Pops Auguste marries the haughty and cold-hearted Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, marvellously played by Angelica Huston. Her facial expressions are wonderful. She has more acting talent in one eyebrow, lol, than some actresses do in their entire repertoires.

She plays Rodmilla as, not an evil or wicked Step-mother exactly, but more as one who is simply supremely self-centred and thoughtless, who never bothers to put herself in the other person's shoes (or should that be glass slipper...?). She's also lazy and not used to 'doing' for herself.

She has a cold nature and only gives affection, although it seems more like savage criticism disguised as motherly concern, to her own daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline. Marguerite is a proper little bitch-in-the-making who's never done a hand's turn for anyone other than herself in her entire life, while Jacqueline is much nicer, although she has to keep this side of her nature mostly a secret from her mother, who would take it as a sign of weakness.

Rodmilla comes out with a couple of great lines. 'Nothing is final until you're dead and, even then, I'm sure God negotiates.' And I love when, at one stage, it looks like she's actually going to comfort Danielle, she instead comes out with: 'Don't worry, dear. When things are bad, they can always get worse...!' Rodmilla is brilliant. Brilliantly bitchy. She's my favourite character here by miles.

Auguste, the idiot, pops his clogs almost immediately after marrying Rodmilla. This leaves Danielle in the care of her cold, self-serving Step-mother and the two sisters. A decade elapses and we see that Auguste's estate has fallen into decline and disrepair and Danielle has spent the last ten years slaving for Rodmilla & Co. Auguste would turn over in his grave if he could see what Danielle's been reduced to by her Awful Step-mother. Serves him right for dying, lol.

The handsome young Prince Henry (personally, I think he's as bland as plain bread) is head-over-heels in love with Danielle by now, but he doesn't know her as Danielle the lowly servant. He thinks she's the beautiful and titled noblewoman Nicole de Lancret (don't ask!) who runs away from him after every meeting, which greatly piques his male interest. Thrill of the chase, that's all they care about. Men, sigh. 

They're like a dog chasing a car, the lot of 'em. The dog doesn't know what to do with the car when he eventually catches up to it, so he loses interest, just like a bloke when he finally 'bags' the chick he's been chasing. So men and dogs are quite alike then, you could say. Maybe someone should conduct a detailed study on the subject, lol, and mail it to whocares@gmail.com...

Dougray Scott (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) doesn't do half as good a job as the Handsome But Wimpy Prince as Chris Sarandon does as Prince Humperdinck in the excellent THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987). Mind you, Prince Humperdinck is deliciously evil and sneaky so maybe that gives him the edge in the Prince-ing stakes.

Dougray Scott's Prince Henry isn't evil, merely misguided. He's lived an aimless, comfy,
cosy, thoughtless life of privilege, ease and luxury in his parents' palace. He's never given a thought to the plight of his own servants or anyone else's. He doesn't have the social conscience and highly-developed sense of right and wrong that the feisty Danielle has. She has much to teach this self-centred young milksop...

Of course, when Rodmilla discovers that her kitchen-maid step-daughter Danielle's been making goo-goo eyes at the Prince of the Realm, whom Rodmilla's earmarked for her dreadful daughter Marguerite, there'll be skin and hair flying.

Rodmilla and Marguerite are the ultimate social climbers. Just because the dozey Prince, led by his royal Wee-Willy-Winkie like most of these so-called Handsome Fairytale Princes, has reacted favourably to Marguerite's appearance in the past has made both women think that Marguerite is a shoo-in to be the next Queen of France.

When they find out what's been going on clandestinely between the Prince and this mystery woman Nicole de Lancret, the shit will hit the fan royally. Will Cinderella/Danielle be compensated for her years of slavery under Rodmilla's régime, or will Marguerite pip her to the post? Ah come on, guys. You all know how the story ends. It's a fairytale, for Chrissakes.

I love Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie of France. Ms. Parfitt is also famous for playing Vera Donovan in the film adaptation of Stephen King's magnificent DOLORES CLAIBORNE. Vera is the titular Dolores Claiborne's hard-assed wealthy employer. Dolores is Vera's cleaning lady and all-round workhorse in whom Vera senses, if not exactly a kindred spirit, then at least a fellow woman worthy of respect.

When Dolores confides in the supercilious Vera that her no-good husband has been sexually molesting their daughter Selena, Vera gives Dolores the kind of advice that makes the other woman's jaw drop. 'Sometimes husbands die, Dolores, and leave their wives all their money.' But Dolores takes Vera's advice nonetheless, on one very special day when there's a total eclipse of the sun...

Anyway, you all had better enjoy these cutesy-pie versions of the CINDERELLA fairytale while you can. Future more politically correct versions will probably see the Cinderella character as an androgynous-looking person of interdeminate gender whose life partner is now a bisexual talking horse.

The Prince will be a lesbian female who teaches a class in self-awareness for amputees and the Wicked Step-mother will have morphed into the Mildly Critical Extended-Family-Member who's opened her heart- and her castle- to refugees from Outer Space. The traditional story we ladies loved to fantasise about when we were kids may never be the same again. Like I said, enjoy it while ye can.

Mind you, these fairytales are not exactly models of feminist writing, are they? Much as we love them, they teach us that women are helpless females who are either servants or lonely princesses, but either way they're nothing until some bloke has come along on his white horse to rescue them and take 'em away from their awful, worthless lives. 

If all that way of thinking is going to change, then maybe the new fairytales should teach us that women can be their own rescuer from bad situations. Maybe I'll write that bloody book myself. 'BE YOUR OWN KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR.' Rescue yourself from whatever lousy goddamn prison life's got you chained up in. Don't steal my idea now. I'm putting you guys on your honour. Patent pending...

EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY is available to buy now in a lovely Dual Format Edition from the wonderful FABULOUS FILMS.



AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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