The first reviews for Cinderella from the yesterday premiere! (Possible spoilers!)
None is an accusation you could fairly level against Cate Blanchett’s splendid Lady Tremaine. A tart-tongued beauty with a traffic-stopping wardrobe inherited from the personal archives of Edith Head – not to mention an evident knack for hosting a mean poker party – she’s plainly the biggest catch in the entire kingdom.
Blanchett is certainly the best thing in Kenneth Branagh’s perky, pretty, lavender-scented cupcake of a fairytale adaptation – the first in what looks to be a series of live-action Disney updates of their own animated classics.
Perhaps “update” isn’t the word, given that its go-getting villain is the only element of this irony-free interpretation that feels remotely revisionist: cleverly played by Blanchett as a life-hardened femme fatale rather than an irrational harridan, this sexed-up stepmum is just a woman trying to get ahead in what is still rigidly, for all its talk of happy endings, a man’s world.
via The Guardian
Only Cate Blanchett, who plays the imperious Lady Tremaine, fashion-plate stepmother to ash-covered orphan Ella (“Downton Abbey’s” Lily James), seems fit to hold her own against such extravagant costumes and sets — and none of the outfits are more formidable than Blanchett’s elaborate wardrobe of brilliant green gowns, stunningly designed to complement the butterfly-lit star’s ginger locks and ruby-red lips. With eyes wide, brows arched and her mouth in a permanent scowl, Blanchett blends aspects of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck and Marlene Dietrich into an epic villainess, so deliciously unpleasant one almost wishes the film were focused more on her.
Cinderella addresses the character by that term during a moment of sorrow, and Blanchett’s feline malevolence is priceless as she tells her that such formality isn’t necessary. “Madam will do,” she says with an icy smile. Looking the very picture of soignée 1940s-style chic in Sandy Powell’s extraordinary costumes, Blanchett reinvigorates the textbook villainess both with her delicious cruelty and her gnawing resentment. “Love is never free,” she says bitterly as she contemplates her own narrowed choices and exposes her ruthlessness.
Blanchett pulls off a superb balancing act, making the stepmother archly amusing with her world-weary imperiousness, but also giving her a tang of desperation and tiny hints of a less refined woman beneath all the manufactured poise. While her mission is to secure her daughters’ future along with her own, her barely disguised disdain for those idiotic brats lends additional underlying pathos to her malice.
But as so often with Disney films, this one is owned by its villain. Cate Blanchett, jaw-dropping in an Easter Parade’s worth of amazing costumes (that 2016 Oscar should just be wrapped up and mailed to Sandy Powell now), is the ace up the film’s fitted satin sleeve. Striking catlike poses and oozing poison when required, she is also given a little humanity, including a surprisingly dorky, vulgar laugh that suggests just how studied and artificial her elegance is. One scene in which she tells her life story like she’s the heroine of a “once upon a time” tale, does in two minutes what “Maleficent” couldn’t do in two hours: it helps us understand her character’s brokenness without declawing her one bit.
Branagh is helped along by the credentials of his impressive, assembled cast, with Blanchett in particular, the star of the show. She’s unashamedly theatrical and comically ill-disposed, injecting a real sense of class into this production. Her inclusion is particularly imperative, as she provides this picture with the cruelty and inhumanity needed to counteract what is otherwise a frivolous, and effervescent creation.
Thankfully, Cate Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine – 50 shades of fierce – is just the pill required. “She too had known grief,” Helena Bonham Carter’s fruity narrator (and fun fairy godmother) tells us, “but she wore it wonderfully well.” This isn’t the half of it. Costume designer Sandy Powell’s magnificently haughty frocks almost threaten to upstage the actress wearing them.
Even wrapped in a leopard-skin dressing gown, Blanchett’s much too wily to let that happen, as she throws constant facial shade at the moronic antics of the Ugly Sisters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger); their ugliness is mostly on the inside, despite a whole lot of horrendous colour-coordination.
via The Telegraph