We’re doing something a little different this summer for #WayBackWednesday! I asked the Fangirlish staff to tell me their favorite summer flicks–films they associate with summer, be that a film set in the summer, a film that was released in the summer, or a movie they spent a summer watching. Each writer will tell you why they chose their movie and I’ll be reviewing their film recommendations during June, July, and August. This is our Summer Vacation series! Pour yourself a glass of Kool-Aid, make some ramen, and find out how we spent our summer vacations each #WayBackWednesday.
For me, summer has always been about a good story, whether in a book or on the screen. Oftentimes, those were fairy or fantasy stories. Despite this, I never saw the latest take on Cinderella, Ever After during the summer of 1998 or summers afterward, but I remember it being popular among most of the girls I knew at school. Drew Barrymore was a hot commodity back then (and still is now), so it wasn’t surprising to me to see her headlining the film. Even though this is a film I missed before this week, Fangirlish associate editor Jade didn’t! Check out the trailer for Ever After and we’ll find out why Jade thinks this is a great summer vacation film for #WayBackWednesday.
Here’s why Jade thinks Ever After makes a great summer vacation film.
“Ever After is my favorite retelling of Cinderella–and not just because I may have developed a tiny crush on Dougray Scott’s Prince Henry the first time I saw it! I watch it at least once a year, and it’s Anjelica Huston’s nuanced performance as the evil stepmother that captivates me every time, evoking a small measure of sympathy for her character without excusing her actions or attempting to paint her as a tragic figure. It’s the perfect summer movie for me because of its beautiful settings, that make you want to take a dip in the lake with Drew Barrymore’s Danielle–while also being grateful not to have to do so while burdened with quite so many layers of clothing in the heat of the summer!”
Ever After is an interesting twist on the Cinderella tale. Danielle is the orphaned daughter of Auguste (Jeroen Krabbé), who is left in the care of her new stepmother, Rodmilla (Anjelica Huston) at her father’s passing. Rodmilla and her daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline treat Danielle as a servant, rather than a daughter and sister. The rags-to-riches story isn’t given the fairy treatment. Instead of using a fairy in this fairy tale, we have Leonardo da Vinci. Yes, that Leonardo da Vinci. You’ll have to watch to find out how da Vinci serves as a pseudo-Fairy Godfather in this story.
Here are some things I particularly enjoy about Ever After.
The cast really makes Ever After work. Drew Barrymore is a lot of fun as Danielle, offering a fresh take on the character. She’s no wilting flower. She is fiery, passionate, and brave. She cares about justice and really adds complexity to the Cinderella character. I also agree with Jade’s assessment of Anjelica Huston’s nuanced portrayal of the wicked stepmother. I never thought I would ever have sympathy for the wicked stepmother, but Huston’s performance made her sympathetic, at least in a few scenes. She is still perfectly evil and cruel, so even though I see how she got there, it doesn’t excuse her horrible actions.
Megan Dodds is an absolute snake as wicked stepsister, Marguerite, executing her role with perfect charm and underlying guile. Melanie Lynskey’s character as stepsister Jacqueline really surprised me. I don’t want to spoil that for you, so I’ll let you discover this on your own if you’ve never watched the film. Suffice to say, she’s got more complexity than your typical wicked stepsister. And of course, Dougray Scott as Prince Henry is, indeed, charming. He’s much more than just charming though–he has some growth throughout the film, which was a fresh take on the prince that I wasn’t expecting.
Ever After also boasts some other notable actors, such as Toby Jones (Dobby from Harry Potter) as the royal page, Richard O’Brien (Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as Pierre Le Pieu, and Patrick Godfrey (Morrell from The Count of Monte Christo) as Leonardo da Vinci. This is a cast really worth checking out. Add Ever After to your list as a film with a great cast; it’s a solid choice for your summer viewing.
Interesting Creative Choices
One of the things I enjoy about Ever After is the creative choices they made with the classic Cinderella story. Instead of making it a fantastical tale, the film injects a bit of realism by framing the narrative as a story told to the Brothers Grimm. Also by using Leonardo da Vinci as a pseudo-Fairy Godfather, rather than the traditional Fairy Godmother, is fascinating. I didn’t expect that at all, so it was a delightful change of pace.
One of the best changes from the traditional tale is that it shifts the focus from just being a rags-to-riches tale to a Cinderella that focuses on creating equality among commoners and the hierarchy. That is such a refreshing and modern take on the tale. This makes Ever After one of the more interesting takes on Cinderella in my book. If you want a summer movie to subvert your expectations, Ever After is a great place to start.
Thanks very much to Jade for recommending Ever After to me this week! It was one I missed, and I’m glad now to have watched it. Jade is one of our associate editors at Fangirlish, but also is a busy writer. Jade covers TV quite prolifically on the site, writing about A Confession, The Pembrokeshire Murders, Sexy Beasts, In the Footsteps of Killers, and The Flash. If you’re into True Crime, Jade’s work is worth checking out.
Ever After is streaming now on Disney+.