If you're having a blah day and are looking for a pick-me-up, get thee over to Netflix and give this one a whirl.
It's a Cinderella retelling, with no magic or fairy godmothers, just an orphan girl, a few adventures of confused identity, a prince who needs a wife, and Leonardo da Vinci. I think Leonardo da Vinci is the fairy godmother of this tale? Either way, it works!
The movie's got a lot of things going for it. Like:
A sweet, likeable heroine. She isn't a fighting ninja type, but Danielle, our Cinderella, has got lots of guts and lots of spirit, and cares passionately about the people around her. She has her fears and insecurities, and she might be a little too "I am a feisty commoner!" for some people's tastes, but she's definitely a lively and likeable lead for the story.
A genuine romance. No love at first sight here. Cinderella and her prince fight during several of their first meetings, and certainly doesn't like him and his spoiled privilege at first glance. The two characters get to spend a lot of time together, and grow together, before we're asked to cheer for their happily-ever-after ending. And darn cute they are too!
A stepsister who's ugly on the inside. We don't have the gorgeous, graceful Cinderella vs her hideous sisters, or the humble, kind girl vs her superficial, silly sisters. Her stepsister is pretty horrible to her, although more dismissive and uncaring than directly cruel. But beauty (and ugliness) are only skin deep.
A stepsister who isn't so ugly on the inside. One problem with the Cinderella story is that (if you don't count supernatural fairy godmothers) there's only one good, likeable female character (Cinderella). All the other women are cruel and selfish, or, at the very best, shallow and vain. Yet although the second stepsister here isn't close friends with Cinderella, and can do little to help her, she is shown to at least have a sense of human dignity and of fairness. She has no real power in the situation either, but she will at least protest on Cinderella's behalf, and offer her some looks of kindness when she can.
Pretty dresses, pretty sets, and all that good fantasy stuff. Enough said, there.
All in all, the perfect Sunday afternoon movie! Thanks to Vanessa for the recommend. :)