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1 item from 1998

Film review: 'Ever After'

27 July 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

An old yarn has been restitched with '90s lacing in 20th Century Fox's "Ever After", a captivating new spin on the classic "Cinderella" story. Featuring Drew Barrymore as a sprightly, decidedly feisty Cinderella figure, the sumptuous film should especially delight young girls. Enchantingly lensed, adults will find it appealing as well, and down the line it should be a hit as a slumber-party rental.

Danielle (Barrymore) is no ordinary 16th century girl: She is prone to quoting Sir Thomas More when not scampering about her father's castle, climbing trees and tossing apples at itinerant princes. But Danielle's world is shattered by the death of her kindly father, and she must endure the treachery of her cruel stepmother (Anjelica Huston) and two stepsisters -- one a manipulative beauty (Megan Dodds) and the other a lethargic tattletale (Melanie Lynskey). While Danielle is subjugated to servantlike duties, her high spirits remain intact: In the '90s lexicon of much of the script, she is no victim.

Narratively, "Ever After" is ever amusing. It's a refreshing blend of adventurous escapades, personal treachery and individual growth. Screenwriters Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant (who also directed) and Rick Parks have concocted a frothy blend of all the best fairy tale ingredients and condensed it to a keen story of one girl's valiant personal battles against great odds. It will surely be an inspirational grid for young girls everywhere -- not to mention us older coots -- as they follow Danielle's daily battles.

Barrymore is enchanting and charismatic as the young girl who must survive the backbiting of her siblings and stepmother. Her spunky, athletic performance imbues her Cinderella-esque character with a dimension we haven't seen before. Huston is wonderful as her evil stepmother, while Dodds is well-cast as vainglorious, beautiful stepsister Marguerite. Dougray Scott is both dashing and humble as the apple of Danielle's eye, Prince Henry, while Lynskey brings particularity to the other stepsister, Jacqueline. Jeanne Moreau graces the production briefly, fittingly playing a Grande Dame.

Adorning the central story and magnifying it to its fullest dimension are superb technical contributions. Director Tennant ("Fools Rush In") has magically mustered his cinematic palette to most vivid scope. Under his wise, spry hand, "Ever After" is a visual treat. Cinematographer Andrew Dunn's atmospheric lensings of magnificent, castlelike settings truly give the film a sparkling air, while Michael Howells' production design is fittingly earthy, both harrowing and funny. Costume designer Jenny Beavan's adornments are eye-popping and clue us to the characters' personalities; in particular, Huston's intimidating hats are both amusing and forbidding. Topping it off is George Fenton's robust but dreamy score, another technical high note in this well-spun old/new tale.


20th Century Fox

A Mireille Soria production

An Andy Tennant film

Producers: Mireille Soria, Tracey Trench

Director: Andy Tennant

Screenwriters: Susannah Grant and Andy Tennant & Rick Parks

Director of photography: Andrew Dunn

Production designer: Michael Howells

Editor: Roger Bondelli

Costume designer: Jenny Beavan

Co-producers: Kevin Reidy, Timothy M. Bourne

Music: George Fenton

Casting: Priscilla John, Lucinda Syson

Sound mixer: Simon Kaye


Danielle: Drew Barrymore

Rodmilla: Anjelica Huston

Prince Henry: Dougray Scott

Leonardo: Patrick Godfrey

Marguerite: Megan Dodds

Jacqueline: Melanie Lynskey

King Francis: Timothy West

Queen Marie: Judy Parfitt

Auguste: Jeroen Krabbe

Paulette: Kate Lansbury

Gustave: Lee Ingleby

Running time -- 121 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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1 item from 1998

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