August 1, 1998 -- "Ever After - A Cinderella Story," is a neat retelling of a very old story. This time, instead of a beauty queen, Cinderella is a tomboy and a free thinker, who escapes her fate with intelligence and courage.
Drew Barrymore plays Danielle, a French serving girl who is treated cruelly by her stepmother Rodmilla (Angelica Huston) and by Rodmilla's daughters.
Danielle falls in love with Prince Henry and he with her, although he does not realize she is not of royal blood. There are numerous other complications, including the appearance of Leonardo Da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) and another suitor, the nasty Pierre Le Pieu (Richard O'Brien).
There is also an arranged marriage between Prince Henry (Dougray Scott) and a Spanish princess. The resolution to that problem is surprising. There is also a very interesting run in with a band of Gypsies.
It is not easy to keep surprising the audience when everyone knows how the story turns out, but the plot does have some interesting twists. The love story between Prince Henry and Danielle is very well done and there are many other interesting characters supporting that story.
Scott and Barrymore are very good together and Angelica Huston is great as the wicked stepmother. Huston is aided by a script that gives her character some real depth. She is almost sympathetic.
Danielle wins the heart of Prince Henry not because she is prettier than the other girls, but because she challenges him to reconsider the stereotypes he has been taught to believe. She forces him to think in new terms. That makes the love story even more interesting. This is a very good retelling of an old story. It rates a B+.
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