Who doesn’t appreciate a good whodunit? Furthermore, who doesn’t appreciate a good whodunit that grants two up’n’coming actresses a chance to showcase their acting potential? That’s quite possibly the best that can be said about TRAP FOR CINDERELLA; this adaptation of the Sebastiaen Japrisot novel was crafted and directed for the silver screen by Iain Softley (he’s a fairly slim, unimpressive resume given a shot at some meatier material here) is worth a single viewing but probably lacks any significant re-watching value. Unfortunately, as a whodunit it’s pretty obvious right out of the gate that the guilty party’s identity ain’t all that hard to figure out (it essentially boils down to just a few faces); and the big finish might leave you scratching your head trying to piece together just how it was all pulled off.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Micky (played by the lovely Tuppence Middleton) is the heiress to her wealthy aunt’s fortune who finds herself and her best friend, Do (an equally attractive yet more suitably mousey Alexandra Roach), caught in a devastation house explosion. She awakens to find her face rebuilt in an exclusive Swiss medical clinic only to realize she has very little recollection of the event. Once releases, she goes back home and gradually begins to piece together what amnesia has taken away … though it turns out she may’ve forgotten a family secret tying her, Do, and her deceased aunt to a shared, tragic past.
As I want to make perfectly clear (without spoiling too much of it), it isn’t all that difficult to see the plot at work while watching TRAP FOR CINDERELLA. Heck, even the title suggests that the game’s afoot, and I can’t help but wonder if director Softley shouldn’t have treaded more softly in weaving this not all that cerebral Hitchcockian thriller. Suffice it to say, limiting the grand perpetrator to only a few of the film’s faces so early means that you’re also limiting the audience’s big shock at learning who did it, but this TRAP feels more like a color-by-number someone else has already filled in.
Middleton and Roach turn in two terrific performances worth some minor acclaim. Middleton’s Micky is the good-looking, self-absorbed fashion princess who whiles away her evening perhaps sniffing coke from the silver spoon plucked from her mouth. In contrast, Domenica (aka Do) is her childhood friend whose family fought hard and failed to amount to much of anything in life’s grand pursuit. Think of them as two princesses who grew up on different sides of the track who remain drawn to one another out of a past friendship and nothing else. As the bulk of the history unfolds via flashback, the narrative bounces back and forth between their separate and shared existences, a technique that helps fuel the more accessible elements of the tale but sadly never rises above the Hallmark Movie of the Week quality delivered by the production.
Still, you might find yourself rooting for one girl over the other (I know I did, at times), and that’s probably part and parcel of what keeps viewers watching despite the surrounding theatrical tomfoolery. Micky’s spare time amounts to little more than wasting the family fortune on friends and booze, so it’s no wonder that Do gets caught up in the dizzy affair. It’s when the story begins to try to establish both characters retain an uncharacteristic James Dean macho loneliness that you wonder if Softley was shooting the same movie you’re watching.
The box art promises “twisting suspense and jaw-dropping thrills,” but my copy didn’t have either. What it did have was two nice performances needing a better script.
TRAP FOR CINDERELLA (2013) is produced by Forthcoming Productions, Jonescompany Productions, and Lipsync Productions. DVD distribution is being handled by MPI Media Group under the IFC Midnight imprint. As for the technical specifications, this is one smartly yet languidly shot production with the highest quality sights and sounds available. If it’s special features you’re most interested in, then there are a wealth of short-and-sweet cast-and-crew interviews along with the theatrical trailer for you to explore to their fullest: not much, but it beats whistlin’ Dixie.
RECOMMENDED. TRAP FOR CINDERELLA’s premise is one you can see coming from a mile away, and that’s probably because writer/adapter Iain Softley appeared far too interested in burying the obvious under layer after layer of irrelevant detail thinking that nobody would notice. Sure, there’s a touch of Hitchcock thrown in there for good measure, but if that is all you have to work with maybe the script could’ve used a few more passes while on the drawing board. A nice flick – one that’ll be easily forgotten once it’s over – but not befitting its 100 minute length: halfway through, I started to wonder if I wasn’t the victim!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MPI Media Group provided me with a DVD copy of TRAP FOR CINDERELLA by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.