Release Date: 12th July 2013

Director: Iain Softley (Inkheart / Skeleton Key / K-Pax / Wings Of The Dove / Hackers / Backbeat)

Cast: Tuppence Middleton, Alexandra Roach, Kerry Fox, Aneurin Barnard, Stanley Weber, Alex Jennings with Emilia Fox and Frances de la Tour

Writer: Iain Softley / Sebastien Japrisot


Review below by Matt Usher




  1. TRAP FOR CINDERELLA by Matt Usher

    There’s not much to say about this one but I’ll try. It looks French from the start, and it feels like it ought to be French, even before the action relocates to the south of France. And indeed it turns out to be a remake of an old French film based on an old French novel. Indeed, at its best it does feel like one of those Claude Chabrol movies, or something based on a Ruth Rendell book. You expect Kristin Scott Thomas or Charlotte Rampling to wander along being enigmatically evil at any moment.

    Tuppence Middleton plays Micky, who we meet as she is painstakingly reconstructed after being horribly disfigured by a terrible fire. She’s in a pretty bad state, utterly unrecognisable and suffering from amnesia. This, it turns out, is the start of her problems. After the doctors have done a pretty remarkable job in putting her face together again, Micky runs off and tries to piece together her past. Fortunately her best friend has written a diary which helps to fill in a lot of blanks, and Micky finds that she is, perhaps, not the most sympathetic of people.

    The story is told across several timestreams: the present, in which post-accident Micky has an identity crisis whilst trying to work out just how she came to be in a fire in the first place. We also follow Micky in childhood as she and her friend Do holiday in France with their parents. But something bad happens, and they lose touch. And then we follow the adult Do (Alexandra Roach), pursuing a humdrum life in London, until a chance encounter reunites her with Micky. Do is beguiled by Micky, indeed everyone is (especially Aneurin Barnard as a spare part boyfriend), but beguilement becomes obsession. In yet another timestream we forward to France and a series of twisty events which lead to the climactic conflagration.

    Yes, this is one of those thrillers where no-one is to be trusted, and one cannot believe one’s eyes, ears or even memories. The film takes a jigsaw approach to chronology, but that may be partly an effort to cover up some of the more unlikely developments. The film springs a few surprises (particularly an early revelation) but it is easy enough to work out what’s going on and how everything is likely to pan out.

    This is a good-looking film, let down by a muddy pace and the fact that it telegraphs most of the answers. The actors are pawns, not allowed to make anything of their characters other than what the audience should bee allowed to know. Alexandra Roach is allowed to mousy longing (but nothing else) and Tuppence Middleton gets to do flighty and confused, but that’s about it. They both give decent enough performances as far as they go, but that isn’t very far. These are characters defined purely by plot (the same goes for Kerry Fox and Frances de la Tour). If you’ve paid you’ve watched any of those old French films, or any decent psychological thrillers, then you’re on fairly familiar ground here. This would be a perfectly adequate TV movie (do they still do those?) or a fairly average overlong two-parter, but really TRAP FOR CINDERELLA is about fifteen years too late. There are other problems. At times it seems as if writer-director Iain Softley is just trying to find situations in which Middleton has to take her top off. The intricacies of the plot take precedence over both character and credibility, and the film is insufficiently stylish or twisted enough to successfully pull it off. And the standard ending with a big showdown feels almost tacked on.

    All in all, TRAP FOR CINDERELLA is a diverting entertainment, like a crossword, the viewer having to work out the answers before the heroine does. But it’s all a bit predictable (so at least you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll get it right), and it feels second-hand. I haven’t seen (and was completely unaware of) the earlier French version, so I can’t compare it, but there is something about TRAP FOR CINDERELLA that just feels inauthentic. Perhaps it may have been more successful if it had been more of a period piece, or if greater emphasis had been placed on mood or indeed the fragility of Micky’s mind as she puts the pieces back together. (And I don’t think the title makes sense now I think about it, but maybe that’s the point.) Whilst watching it the film is reasonably interesting and intriguing, but once it’s over and you’ve said ‘I knew it all along’ or ‘well I never!’, it very quickly recedes into the past and very quickly out of memory. Agreeable, predictable, entertaining and preposterous, it’s a film that’s difficult to dislike but impossible to love.

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