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film review

Portia Doubleday stars as a modern Cinderella in Sean Garrity’s latest film.Panagiotis Pantazidis

Reality meets fantasy in Sean Garrity's fashion-world take on Cinderella: The evil stepmother wants to move production off-shore and Prince Charming designs comfortable high-heeled shoes. Kate (Portia Doubleday) returns home to Montreal from design school to join the struggling family fast-fashion business, but she's soon fired by her estranged father (Chris Noth, under the spell of manipulative stepmother Lauren Holly). Determined to foil the corporate sabotage, Kate takes a page from Twelfth Night and returns in guise of an entirely fictitious wunderkind designer. Cue the fake-moustache-and-attempts-at-swagger montage.

Certainly, the production values echo those of high-end made-for-TV fare, but the cast and amusing script more than make up for what the movie lacks in gloss. Doubleday as Kate/Nate does a convincing job of silly quick switches and alter-ego quirks – probably the most charming cross-dresser in light Bard-inspired comedy since Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. And she commutes to the factory from the picturesque cobblestones of Old Montreal, home to free-spirited flighty godmother (Mimi Kuzyk) above a vintage clothing store. She's assisted in makeover madness by Gay BFF the Elder (Carlo Rota, doing his best Prada-wearing Stanley Tucci impression) and in machinations at work by Gay BFF the Younger, Maurice (a scene-stealing David Michael, deploying a few great bits of stage business as well as cultural in-jokes with his French-Canadian accent). Comedic villains Natalie Krill and Anna Hopkins also make a terrific wicked-stepsister act, alas with more chemistry together than Kate has with star-crossed love interest Daniel (Marc-André Grondin, C.R.A.Z.Y.). But that's fine. Titular ball scene, fancy dress makeover and lost stiletto shoe notwithstanding, the chaste nominal romance is less interesting than the fun, family-friendly Shakespearean shenanigans are.

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