Ever After: A Cinderella Story

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the early 19th century, the Grande Dame of France (Jeanne Moreau), an elderly aristocrat, summons the Grimm Brothers and proposes to tell them the real story of the little cinder girl. The lady claims that Cinderella was really a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac. She reveals a portrait of Danielle and a glass slipper, and proceeds to tell the story.

Danielle de Barbarac is a young girl who lives in a manor with her widowed father, Auguste, whom she adores. When Danielle is eight, her father marries the haughty Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (Anjelica Huston), who has two daughters about Danielle’s age. Soon after, Auguste dies. Rodmilla is envious of Danielle, and treats her like a servant after Auguste’s death.

Ten years pass. The Baroness has fallen into debt. Marguerite, her spoiled older daughter, has grown to be cruel, arrogant, and bad-tempered; while the younger, Jacqueline, is kindhearted, soft-spoken, and constantly overlooked. In the orchard one day, Danielle encounters a man attempting to steal her father’s old horse. She pelts him with apples, knocking him to the ground, and is horrified to learn that the man is Henry, the Crown Prince of France. Henry explains that his own horse was lamed in his attempt to escape stifling royal life. He forgives Danielle in exchange for her silence, and rewards her with money.

In the nearby woods, Henry rescues an old man’s prized possession from a band of gypsies who stole it. The man turns out to be Leonardo da Vinci and the possession is the Mona Lisa. Henry’s parents, the king and queen, have summoned Leonardo to the court. He and Henry become friends.

Danielle resolves to use the money to rescue Maurice, an old family servant whom Rodmilla had sold. While her step-family is out of the house, Danielle dons a noblewoman’s dress and goes to court. She finds Maurice about to be shipped to the Americas, and demands his release. Prince Henry sees this and is impressed with Danielle’s intellect, strength of character, and beauty. Danielle refuses to tell Henry her name, though eventually she leaves him with the name of her mother, Comtesse Nicole de Lancret.

Meanwhile, the Baroness schemes to match Marguerite with Henry, even as Henry is enthralled with the mysterious “Nicole.” Henry and Danielle meet up several times and have passionate arguments about Utopia, class conventions, responsibility, and freedom. She challenges him to use his position for a greater good. At one point, they stumble on the gypsy camp, and after they are accosted, Danielle rescues Henry in an uproarious turn of events that wins them the gypsies’ goodwill. Danielle and Henry share their first kiss by the gypsy campfire that night. However, Henry knows that unless he chooses a wife before the upcoming masquerade ball, his parents will marry him to a Spanish princess.

When Danielle’s family receives their invitation to the ball, they lament their failing fortunes and lack of fancy clothes. The Baroness proposes that Marguerite should wear Danielle’s mother’s wedding dress and the matching glass slippers, which were stored away for Danielle’s wedding. Danielle discovers them however, but when she retaliates against Marguerite for mocking her dead mother, she is punished with a severe whipping and having her treasured copy of Utopia burned. Through this, she gains a confidant in Jacqueline.

Danielle decides her idealized view of her relationship with Prince Henry is futile, and that she must break it off. She meets him again as they had planned, but her courage fails her as Henry misinterprets what she says and declares his love for her. Danielle, on the verge of tears, bids him farewell and flees.

Just before the ball, the Baroness discovers the interludes between Danielle and Henry, and her masquerade as the Comtesse de Lancret. The Baroness then informs the Queen that “Nicole” has gone to marry another, and the Queen in turn tells Henry. The Baroness also forbids Danielle from attending the ball.

On the day of the ball, the Baroness and Marguarite accuse Danielle of hiding the dress and slippers. After shouting that she would rather die than see Margurite wear her mother’s gown, Danielle is locked in the larder. Her childhood friend Gustave asks for help from Leonardo, who frees her by unhinging the door. He also encourages her to go to the ball and tell Henry the whole truth, saying that the Prince’s love for her will be enough to overcome convention. The servants give Danielle her mother’s dress and slippers, which they had hidden from Marguerite, and Leonardo gives her a pair of wings.

Just as the King and Queen are about to announce Henry’s engagement to the Spanish princess, Gabriella, Danielle arrives at the ball. Henry is overjoyed, but the Baroness rushes forward and tears off one of Danielle’s wings, accusing her of plotting to entrap the Prince and revealing that she is a commoner. Danielle tries to explain but Henry is humiliated and refuses to listen, calling her an imposter. Devastated, she runs away, losing one of her slippers. Leonardo picks up the slipper, and reprimands Henry for abandoning Danielle, and the principles he claimed to espouse, when she risked everything for him.

Henry stubbornly refuses to consider the truth until he is about to be married. As the wedding begins, the Spanish princess sobs uncontrollably, imploring her parents to allow her to marry her commoner lover. Henry bursts out laughing, and the wedding is called off.

Henry rushes out of the church to find Danielle only to learn that she has been sold to a vile landowner, Pierre Le Pieu. He sets off to rescue her. At his castle, Le Pieu threatens Danielle, now a servant in shackles, with sexual advances. She turns the tables on him and threatens him at sword-point; in exchange for his life he frees her. She walks out of the castle just as Henry arrives. He begs for her forgiveness, telling her he’s been looking for the woman who left behind the glass slipper the night of the ball. He asks her to marry him as he slips it on her foot, and she accepts.

The Baroness and her daughters are summoned to court, assuming that Henry plans to propose to Marguerite. Instead, Rodmilla and Marguerite are asked if they have ever lied to the Queen about Danielle’s engagement. The Baroness makes feeble excuses, while Marguerite tries to save herself by blaming her mother. The ladies turn to Jacqueline for corroboration, but she stands up for herself and refuses to lie for them. The Queen strips the Baroness and Marguerite of their titles and tells them that they will be shipped to the New World colonies, unless someone pleads for them. Danielle steps forward and is introduced as Henry’s wife. Danielle asks that Marguerite and the Baroness be sent to work in the royal laundry for the rest of their days as a fitting punishment. Jacqueline, who had always been kind to Danielle, is spared punishment. She marries the captain of the royal guard, whom she met at the ball.

The Grand Dame reveals to the Brothers Grimm that she is Danielle’s great-great-granddaughter, and, as evidenced by the glass slipper and Da Vinci’s portrait, not only did they live happily ever after, but the story is indeed true.

REVIEW:

I love Drew Barrymore, especially before she went and became all anorexic like she is these days. Somehow, I had let Ever After: A Cinderella Story slip by me, though. The little woman, though, felt the need to watch it tonight, so there you have it.

I have to say that this was not to my liking at all. That is not to say that this is a bad film, I just didn’t care for it.

First off, they took the Cinderella story and made it seem as if it was a historical event, rather than a fairy tale. I applaud them for taking this risk, but they could have done it with a little more…something. This just seemed to drag on and was extremely heavy on the drama, even for a drama.

The characters all seem rather 1 dimensional, with the exception of Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Houston’s. Each of these people just seem to be floating around in a world that seems like it could use something, anything, interesting to happen. I also didn’t quite understand why they put Leonardo da Vinci in here, except for they needed him to bring some sort of credibility, for lack of a better term, to the historical aspect.

In the end, there are going to be those that really love this film. I would wager that most of those people are going to be of the female persuasion. For me, I think that if you want this story told the way it was meant to be and not just another lifeless drama, then you’d be better served watching Ella Enchanted or, even better, Disney’s Cinderella (animated or musical).

3 out of 5 stars

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