Amazon Prime’s Cinderella is unlike any other adaptation of the tale we’ve seen before. Starring Cuban-Mexican-American pop singer Camila Cabello in the titular role, the film starts in a familiar place with an orphaned Cinderella, her abusive stepmother and stepsisters, and a prince desperate to pick his own wife. But in this version, these well-known tropes change completely for the better. Her stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) isn’t as bad as she seems and Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) doesn’t really want to be king but is also afraid to ruin his father’s legacy. Another addition that we’re loving is the revamped version of the Fairy Godmother known as “Fab G” and played by Billy Porter (Pose). Cinderella herself has life goals beyond romance and marriage, she dreams of opening her own shop selling her clothing designs, and make a living independent of her family. Damsel in distress no more!
“In this story, it is not just about the prince and the romantic relationship,” Cabello said in during a press conference. “It’s part of the story but I think girls will love this movie because I choose myself, I choose my future…that’s the message.”
The film also stars Minnie Driver (Queen Beatrice), Pierce Brosnan (King Rowan), and James Corden (James). At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film considering this seemed like a completely different story. Though it had so many great names attached to it, I wasn’t sure what this Cinderella adaptation could offer that was both new and necessary to an audience that has seen this same story play out a hundred times.
But after watching the film twice, I continually found myself blown away by the cast, the song choices (both original music and covers of well-known hits), and the new twists on this centuries-old story. I really enjoyed Menzel’s interpretation of the stepmother character, which other films have always portrayed as a bitter, abusive old woman. While Vivian does have her morally grey moments, this adaptation does a better job of exploring her motivations for her actions and even a bit of backstory that makes her character’s redemption arc feel earned in the end.
In fact, I’d go so far to say that Cinderella is really more about uplifting all its female characters than it is about the famously quick romance, as beautiful as it was to watch unfold. While I may have fallen in love with Prince Robert alongside Cinderella (he’s handsome, charming, and funny, and can sing and dance?!), I was beyond impressed by his mother Queen Beatrice and sister Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive). Both women championed brilliantly against the monarchy’s patriarchal attitudes perpetuated by the king and even by the prince. They take charge, stand up for themselves, and aren’t afraid to fight every “no” from the men around them. Gwen in particular makes it a point to prove herself both a leader and a worthy successor to her father’s throne, which I found really refreshing. “In this movie, the women are the ones who inspire the prince to change his life, to be a better person,” Cabello said.
And of course, she was amazing as the film’s central figure. Even though this was her debut film role, she seemed so natural and composed on-screen. I really liked how she brought Cinderella to life with urgent and important dreams for herself outside of romance. She had real interests like dress-making and drawing, and conviction that sustained her through hard times. Even when Prince Robert asks her to marry him, she stays true to the independent life she’s always wanted until he changes for her, not the other way around. In every way, she was kind and funny, and felt like someone incredibly familiar and close to home.
With its smart commentary on gender and politics, a well-chosen mix of music, and all the ways it uplifts women, Cinderella is a film for the newest generation, and one that will keep you wondering how it will possibly end happily for everyone—how many Cinderella stories can say that?
Cinderella will be released through Amazon Prime Video on September 3rd.