A peasant girl. A prince. The fabled glass slipper. If families didn’t know better, they might mistake Ever After for a tired retread of Cinderella’s quest for true love. They’d be wrong. This delightful film puts a new spin on the classic fairy tale. It contains wit, warmth and almost no problematic content.
Drew Barrymore plays Danielle, the kind-hearted tomboy who maintains a generally sweet spirit despite the oppressiveness of her stepmother and two stepsisters. Posing as a baroness, she nobly attempts to purchase a man’s freedom when she encounters France’s version of “prince charming.” He’s also “prince frustrated” since he’s being goaded into an arranged marriage. The two hit it off, and this assertive cinder girl continues posing as a woman of stature to avoid losing the man of her dreams. Despite this deception, both are decent, benevolent human beings, making it easy to root for them to find happiness together.
Life lessons abound. Ever After extols loyalty, trust, friendship, religious faith, modesty in courtship, the love between a father and daughter, chivalry, mercy, and one’s obligation to use power and position for the good of mankind. It condemns cruelty, selfishness and dishonesty. The only negatives involve one use of the s-word and expressions such as, “By God …” and “Where in God’s name …” That’s all, though a scene in which Danielle sees her father die of a heart attack may upset young children.
Ever After is well acted and beautiful to look at. Extraordinary castles. Scenic countrysides. Impressive costumes. But its greatest asset is a good heart—definitely one of the most pleasant surprises to emerge from Hollywood in 1998.