When Carley, headmistress of The Kitty Packard Pictorial, announced the “I Totally F***ing Love This Movie” blogathon, it occurred to me that I have several personal favorites that could fit this bill. Most of them are classics, to be sure (I mean, DUH–remember where you are, folks). Still, despite my near-constant grumblings about the utter dreck that is 95% of the films that are released theatrically nowadays, there are a number of movies from the past thirty-odd years that I find endearing, meaningful, and just plain re-watchable, and as a change of pace, I decided to focus on a more recent cinematic love of mine for this blogathon–but then, which one? Clueless, which pretty much defined high school for me (seriously, I can still quote every single line from that movie, and I’m unashamed to admit it)? Jurassic Park (dinosaurs!)? Fried Green Tomatoes (which, like Gone With the Wind and Steel Magnolias, is practically required viewing for good Southern girls)? All great movies, all ones that I can watch over and over again, never tiring of them.
But there is one movie I feel I should write about above all others, one that I have loved since I first saw it in theaters as a teenager, one that I own on DVD and yet must watch every time it comes on cable (and which is currently sitting on my DVR even though I OWN THE DAMN THING): Ever After: A Cinderella Story, starring Robert Osborne’s current Essentials co-host/favored Twitter punching bag Drew Barrymore.
I fucking love this movie. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS MOVIE. And I don’t think I can fully express just how much I love it. But I can try!
I love …
… the way Ever After plays with the conceit of fairy tales, conflating fact and fiction by painting the traditional Cinderella trope as something historical as opposed to fanciful. The film’s central plot is framed in the “present day” of nineteenth-century France, as the elderly Grande Dame, Marie Therese, requests a meeting with the Brothers Grimm to discuss their popular “children’s stories.” She professes her admiration for their work before berating them for not relaying the “true” story behind the tale of Cinderella. After showing them a portrait of her great-great-grandmother, Danielle, and her “glass slipper,” the Grande Dame launches into the tale of her ancestor’s life. It’s a fascinating approach to the story, one that takes French storyteller Charles Perrault’s version of the tale and expands it greatly, making Cinderella much more proactive in a slightly feminist twist on the character. This film’s Cinderella doesn’t sit around in a castle and make tiny clothes for mice while trilling about dreams–instead, she makes things happen for herself. How utterly novel (she says somewhat sarcastically, thinking of the Disneyfied princess trope that makes her want to hurl despite her intrinsic love for many of those animated classics).
I love …
… Drew Barrymore’s performance as the intelligent, passionate, fiercely protective Danielle.
As I mentioned above, Barrymore gets a lot of flack these days for her appearances on TCM, where her loose, laid-back approach to commentary provides a stark contrast to Robert O.’s more schooled and genteel criticism. And I have to admit, I find it rather irritating. The appeal of the Essentials series is the chance to hear differing perspectives on familiar, beloved films. Is Barrymore a little … flighty? Perhaps. But that doesn’t make her any less a fan than the rest of sitting at home, and I’d be hard-pressed to believe that any of her critics could do a better job elucidating why these movies are so meaningful to them. Give the woman a damn break.
Getting back to her performance here: Barrymore makes for a lovely Cinderella (despite the attempt at an accent, which admittedly comes and goes at times throughout the film). She’s incredibly expressive, and I like that her Cinderella is not pristine and unapproachable in her beauty; she is somewhat plain and decidedly down-to-earth, and the prince’s attraction to her relies more on her instincts and cleverness than her ability to charm with a wink and a dance. This is a Cinderella who takes no shit–my kind of gal.
I love …
… the rest of the female cast, starting with Anjelica Huston as the wicked stepmother. Rodmilla is the worst kind of bitch, cold and calculating and scheming, and Huston attacks the role with verve, adding a delicious bite of spitefulness to every word she utters. Add in Megan Dodds as whiny Marguerite and the ever-underrated Melanie Lynskey as kindhearted Jacqueline, and the pitch-perfectly-cast family portrait is complete. And let’s not forget Jeanne Moreau as Danielle’s great-great-granddaughter, the Grande Dame, who beautifully anchors the film’s framing device (Jeanne freaking Moreau, you guys!). This is a movie filled with some truly great female characters, and what I find most impressive is that even though the nature of this film would invite caricature, these characters are, for the most part, fully fleshed-out and relatable, even at their nastiest.
I love …
… those deliriously fantastic, sometimes over-the-top costumes. Siiiiiigh.
I love …
… the twist on the Fairy Godmother archetype, in which renowned artist/inventor/Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) is cast in the role. Instead of being “magical,” Leonardo’s help comes in the form of advice and scientific principle–a more pragmatic approach, true, but nonetheless an interesting way to supersede the “fairy” aspect of the character.
[Whenever I watch this film, I'm reminded anew of a particular pet peeve of my art history professor in college, who cringed every time someone referred to Leonardo da Vinci as simply "da Vinci," as that was NOT his last name--it's simply an indicator that the artist was "from Vinci" (a town in the Tuscany region of Italy). The proper way to address the artist is simply "Leonardo." Who says you don't really learn anything in college?]
I love …
… Dougray Scott. There’s really nothing to add here. Just look at the picture and lose yourself for a moment. Or two.
Yes, I do so love this gorgeous, engrossing, thoroughly entertaining movie, for all these reasons and more. In the end, though, what it really comes down to is this: it doesn’t matter if this is a “good” film by others’ standards–what matters is that it speaks to me. I’ve often been guilty of judging others for their movie tastes, whether it’s because I don’t care for most action films, or because I am only now coming to understand the appeal of genres like Westerns. Still, whatever the reason may be, I shouldn’t do that, and neither should any of us, because if a movie gives someone joy, makes them feel, entertains them … then it has worth, and value, on a personal level. And really, isn’t that the most important thing about the movies, whether you’re talking about Citizen Kane or Showgirls, Casablanca or Ever After?
You know, movies are just plain fucking awesome.
“And while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.”
This post is our contribution to the “I Totally F***ing Love this Movie” Blogathon hosted by The Kitty Packard Pictorial. Check out the site to see more tributes to the films we seriously just can’t get enough of.