Ella (Camila Cabello) after Fab G (Billy Porter) transformed Ella for the ball. This exquisite dress was designed by Ella and was brought into life by Fab G.  Photo by Ayanna Villanueva.

“She’s beautiful. She’s witty. She’s fearless,” Prince Robert recalls of Cinderella. In this modern and musical take on the European folktale, our protagonist Ella is a self-made entrepreneur who has big dreams of providing for herself and escaping the “basement life” by being a known dress-maker. Hence the line “You’re Gonna Know My Name” being sung in multiple scenes. With the help of her genderless fairy, the Fabulous G, and her three mice best friends, Ella must overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of achieving her goals. 

Directed and written by Kay Cannon (best known for writing and producing the Pitch Perfect series), the film stars Camila Cabello on her film debut as our ambitious heroine Cinderella and English actor Nicholas Galitzine as the “King’s Idiot Son,” Prince Robert. Of course, a Cinderella story would be incomplete without the wicked stepmother and stepsisters. But in this film, that’s not the case. The stepmother, who is played by Idina Menzel, is given a sad backstory which makes her look less ruthless and more empathetic. The stepsisters are also kind and likeable, and have their own insecurities to cope with, which was a nice change from the original and other remakes. 

The film tackled current social issues such as achieving ambitions, female empowerment, expectations from women, men and royals, success, feminism, patriarchy and socioeconomic status. Feminism is one of the themes that could be seen all throughout the film. One of my favorite scenes was when Ella counterattacked with, “We ladies give birth. We run households. Surely running a business can’t be that hard,” after being told that women can’t own shops. While most princesses dreamt of marrying and living Happily Ever After with a prince, our protagonist Ella dreamt of having a successful dress-making business. 

Patriarchy is another common theme seen throughout the film. One specific example of patriarchy is when the king consistently silenced the women in his family and was very opposed to hearing his daughter’s opinions on how to fix the kingdom’s flaws. In addition, royals are always perceived in movies as people who are forced to marry for power rather than love; this film has shed some light onto this topic by showing how expectations hold weight on people, specifically for Prince Robert. Our Prince Charming also showed impressive character development throughout the film as he went from being labelled as a “mama’s boy” to being a responsible man who could stand up for his decisions. 

Despite gaining poor reviews on film review websites such as Rotten Tomatoes (43%), IMDb (4.2/10) and Metacritic (41%), Cinderella has received over 1.1 million views across U.S households on its first four days of release according to Samba TV. It was also the most watched movie during its Labor Day weekend debut. On the other hand, some of the reviews I found online said that only kids would like this movie, that it’s too bland, that it’s cringe-worthy and an eyesore. One online critic, Nell Minow, from Roger-Ebert.com, expressed, “It is less a movie than a string of TikTok clips and it made my eyes spin like pinwheels.”

But… I personally love this movie. I love how it empowers women to overcome their hopelessness and believe in themselves and their dreams. I love how the protagonist is not your classic damsel in distress but rather a strong independent girl with big dreams who does not need a Prince Charming. The movie was also humorous, which added a light touch. Considering that this is a musical movie, the sound tracks weren’t that bad either. Some of the songs include Janet Jackson and  Des’ree’s, “Rhythm Nation/You Gotta Be,”Material Girl” by Madonna, “Somebody to Love” by Queen, and “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. My personal favorite is the original soundtrack that is co-written by Camila Cabello, “A Million To One,” which feels very motivational. It makes me feel the strength to dream bigger and higher. 
I would give this movie an honest 9/10. It’s missing a point because I feel like it needs more of something that I can’t put my finger on. Cinderella 2021 is now available to watch on Amazon Prime Video!