Ever After
Rating -

Drama (US); 1998; Rated PG-13; 121 Minutes

Drew Barrymore: Danielle
Anjelica Huston: Rodmilla
Dougray Scott: Prince Henry
Patrick Godfrey: Leonardo da Vinci
Megan Dodds: Marguerite
Melanie Lynskey: Jacquelin de Ghent
Timothy West: King Francis
Judy Parfitt: Queen Marie

Produced by Timothy Bourner, Melissa Cobb, Kevin Reidy, Mireille Soria and Tracy Trench; Directed by Andy Tennant; Screenwritten by Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant and Rick Parks

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Written by DAVID KEYES

It's Drew Barrymore's movie. It's always her movie. No matter what material she appears in, it's hers. She is a master of attention, beauty, grandeur, and superiorness--she brings a good name to young actresses, and passion to whatever roles she plays. Heck, she almost made "The Wedding Singer" look good, and it only got a half star from me.

She is a vision of great spirit and great talent, and there's never been an actress like her. Seeing her in "Ever After," the new Cinderella retelling, I was drawn not just to the beauty and costumes and sets the movie provided, but her story and characterization, which, once again, steals our attention away from other details of the picture. She is the focus of our attentions.

"Ever After" comes to life with her in it, but that does not mean the movie couldn't have been saved without her. The movie's story, design, technique and setting are appropriate and pleasing elements for such a story, especially considering that I'm neither a fan nor admirer of any Cinderella tale in the past. What's different here is the pageantry of design and movement, not to mention Drew Barrymore.

Perhaps I enjoyed it because it is more uniquely crafted than any other Cinderella story. At the beginning of the movie, an old women tells of Cinderella in a 'true' story form to the Brothers Grimm, so that, for once, it can be done correctly in a fairy tale book. In this true story, Cinderella's name was Danielle, and she was not the typical happy-cheery person as we saw in the Disney version of the fairy tale. She did believe in her dreams coming true, but didn't always take the crap that her step-relatives gave to her.

Danielle was a brave Cinderella, and as in all the other versions, she meets her Prince Charming. He is named Prince Henry, and is played by Dougray Scott, in another one of the most convincing roles of the picture. Together, these two create great chemistry for the picture to carry out, as both try to remain together despite the pressures or royalty and family.

Anjelica Huston, who plays the stepmother Rodmilla, is really suave in this role (kind of like a Shakespearean actress), and I think that she may be on her way to another Academy Award with this performance. Her despicable attitude and wicked jealousy are elements that always work with Huston's characters, and she once again demonstrates them here, in a role she seems made for.

By the time I was leaving the theater, I was being reminded instantly of "The Mask Of Zorro" from mid-July. Both are movies stunning to look at, fun to watch, beautifully photographed, and outstandingly concepted. No, "Ever After" is not as good as "The Mask Of Zorro," but don't take that as an insult. For a Cinderella flick, it sure is a dang good one.

1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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