Ever After

1998, Movie, PG-13, 121 mins

Review

EVER AFTER
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Once upon a time there was a feisty young woman who didn't sit around twiddling her pretty thumbs and singing "Someday My Prince Will Come." That's the revisionist spin on Cinderella, and it twirls very nicely. Poor orphaned Cinderella, a 16th-century French girl who loses her beloved father and gains a just-short-of-wicked stepmother and two horrid stepsisters on the same awful day, is now called Danielle (Drew Barrymore). Her widowed father (Jeroen Krabbe), a free thinker who encouraged Danielle to read, speak her mind and treat all people as equals, has a fatal heart attack shortly after marrying the elegant Baroness Rodmilla (Anjelica Huston), who longs for the glamour and intrigue of court society. Left to the social-climbing Rodmilla's less-than-tender mercies, Danielle is treated as a servant by step siblings Marguerite (Megan Dodds), a stuck-up beauty, and plump, graceless Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey), and spends her days cleaning and tending livestock. But Danielle still catches the eye of rebellious Prince Henry (Dougray Scott), who's in the market for a bride: Unfortunately, she does so while in disguise and while Baroness Rodmilla is doing her damnedest to promote Marguerite as the most marriageable girl in town. No, this isn't the classic Cinderella: It's an eclectic mix that ditches magic spells in favor of a message of self-reliance, and tosses in everything from the Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci, who's visiting the French court, acts as Danielle's benevolent protector) to a glass slipper from Ferragamo, then tops it off with Jeanne Moreau. As the grande dame who commands the movie's framing story, she advises the Brothers Grimm that she's very fond of their collection of folk stories, but they got that Cinderella business all wrong. "How do you begin these tales?" she asks in her cigarettes-and-whiskey voice. "Ah, yes, once upon a time... " leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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