Trap for Cinderella: Film Review

Nicola Dove/IFC Films
This would-be Hitchcockian thriller is marred by preposterous plotting and leaden execution.

Iain Softley's twist-laden thriller explores the unhealthy relationship between two young women.

In adapting Sebastien Japrisot’s 1963 French novel, director Iain Softley (Backbeat, The Wings of the Dove) clearly aspired to craft a modern-day psychological thriller on the order of Alfred Hitchcock or Claude Chabrol. Unfortunately, the result, Trap for Cinderella, turns out to have been a trap for the filmmaker as well. Turgid and preposterous, the film strains for eroticism and suspense, but achieves neither.

The convoluted storyline contains too many would-be major plot twists to be fully detailed here. It begins with a fiery explosion in a mansion that nearly kills 20-year-old Micky (Tuppence Middleton). A series of reconstructive surgeries restore her looks but not her memories, which she only gradually regains with the help of her wealthy aunt’s (Frances de la Tour) assistant, Julia (Kerry Fox).

Micky eventually learns that she is a wealthy, party-loving photographer whose best friend is Domenica (Alexandra Roach), referred to as Do. The two had been childhood friends who later drifted apart, only to be reunited years later. But as much as Micky is vivacious and carefree, Do is withdrawn and socially awkward. Their rekindled relationship soon turns emotionally fraught, with Do becoming ever more obsessed with Micky, even aping her appearance in Single White Female fashion.

Long before the film reaches its conclusion, viewers will have become weary with the puzzle-like intricacies of the plot, which veers confusingly between past and present via a series of expository flashbacks. Softley’s pedestrian approach doesn’t help, failing to infuse the material with the stylistic flair that might have made its outlandish plot elements more palatable.

The young female leads deliver game performances — Middleton frequently is required to bare her breasts — that are hampered by their characters’ lack of psychological subtext, while such pros as Fox and de la Tour are largely wasted.  

Production: Forthcoming Productions, Jonescompany Productions, Lipsync Productions
Cast: Tuppence Middleton, Alexandra Roach, Kerry Fox, Aneurin Barnard, Stanley Weber, Alex Jennings, Frances de la Tour
Director-screenwriter: Iain Softley
Producers: Robert Jones, Dixie Linder
Executive producers: Motti Colman, Anders Erden, Peter Hampden, Norman Merry, Anne Sheehan, Lee Vandermolen
Director of photography: Alex Barber
Production designer: Gary Williamson
Costume designer: Verity Hawkes
Editor: Stuart Gazzard
Composer: Christian Henson
No rating, 100 minutes

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