Trap for Cinderella (2013)
Review by Jude Felton
As far as quantity of output goes, director Iain Softley is not exactly prolific. He’s not quite in the same league as Terrence Mallick’s snail-like pace, up until recent years, but since his cracking debut, Backbeat, in 1994 you can count the number of films he’s directed on both hands. This year, however, he’s back with a sly little thriller that is truly quite engaging.
The film starts with an explosion in a French villa, which takes the life of one girl, Mickey, and severely scars another, Do (short for Domenica); both mentally and physically. After waking in hospital, with virtually no recollection of anything prior, Do is taken into the care of a family friend, Julia (Kerry Fox). From here on in we the film flicks back and forth in time, slowly revealing the past lives of all involved, including the dying Aunt Elinor (Frances de la Tour), and how, and why, the explosion occurred.
Trap for Cinderella is a tricky little bugger, and it’s one that it really does benefit from paying close attention to all the details. Obviously, as a thriller it is a darker picture than is first presented, as the plot twists and turns, taking in elements of mistaken identities, friendships, betrayals and other such treachery.
Iain Softley’s direction, and script (which was adapted from the novel of the same name), are both nicely utilized in keeping the viewer’s attention on the screen, even when the outcome doesn’t really come as a great surprise. It’s also worth mentioning that some of the scenery, especially when the action moves to France, is quite stunning.
The real strength of Trap for Cinderella however, aside from Softley’s assured direction, is the cast, all which all of the main players are terrific female performances. Aneurin Barnard, as Jake, does pop up for a bit, but 90% of the film is taken up by the four main leads. Tuppence Middleton and Alexandra Roach both give very believable performances as Mickey and Do, respectively, and do carry the real weight of the film. However, alongside these two terrific young actors, there is also a delightful performance from Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave) as the “caring” Julia. The foursome is rounded off by the ever impressive Frances de la Tour, who really has an extended cameo, such is her screen time, but her role is vital to the film and she’s always a joy to watch.
As with films of this nature, where the action jumps back and forth in time, there is often the chance for questions to be asked about certain plot elements, and that is the case here. However, this is the sort of film that does allow for those parts to be excused, unless of course you’re a card carrying member of the Script Police. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of what was essentially a very well-crafted thriller.
Overall, it’s good to see Softley back behind the camera, delivering as he has a flawed but still highly impressive thriller. The cast are terrific, and even though there are some slight implausibility’s in the script, they all manage to deliver truly convincing performances which lift the film up.
Trap for Cinderella is definitely worth checking out, especially as a thriller that doesn’t rely on car chases, overt violence or a huge Hollywood budget in order to be effective. Hell, I will take this film over those any day of the week.
TRAP FOR CINDERELLA opens in select theaters and will also be available to watch on Cable VOD, SundanceNOW and other digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon Streaming, PS3 Playstation Unlimited, XBOX Zune, Google PLAY and YouTube) beginning December 13th.