The basic story involves a bright, beautiful 16th
century girl, Danielle De Barbarac (Drew Barrymore), who loves books, her family's
Manor and her father, Auguste De Barbarac (Jeroen Krabbé). 10 years after
the death of her beloved dad, a chance encounter with a prince (whom she meets
when she pretends to be a courtesan, in order to rescue a fellow servant, that
the step-mother sold to pay taxes) offers respite from the tough life of servitude,
to her nasty stepmother and stepsisters, on her own father's Manor.
Huston soars with her portrayal of Barrymore's evil, self-centered stepmother,
whose main goal is to make her eldest daughter, Marguerite De Ghent, queen. In
reference to the upcoming marriage of Prince Henry to the Spanish Princess, she
says, "Darling, nothing is final 'til you're dead, and even then, I'm sure
God negotiates." Instead of going over the top, Huston uses pursed lips,
arched eyebrows, and hushed tones to create an unforgettable portrait of vain,
Drew Barrymore offers
a "modern" interpretation of Cinderella. She refuses to be bound by
the then conventional limitations of being a servant and a woman, determined to
keep her family together, find a way to turn the manor around, reach out to Prince
Henry at the costume ball, and get away from the clutches of Pierre Le Pieu, (Richard
O'Brien). Possessing intelligence, self respect, and an unquenchable spirit, Barrymore's
Danielle offers a surprisingly contemporary role model for today's young girls.
Although she took a few years to 'arrive,' with "Ever After," Barrymore
proudly displays the superb acting tradition that flows through her veins.
Scott's Prince Henry, is a handsome yet complex character. Although a romantic
figure, he's three dimensional, with good and bad traits and an arrogance that
goes with his royal blood line. It also helps that he has great on-screen chemistry
Patrick Godfrey is delightful
in the role of Leonardo da Vinci. Godfrey fully captures the inventiveness, wisdom,
and love-of-life that must have been the real Leo.
West does his kingly best as King Francis, the frustrated monarch, determined
to get his son off his floundering path, by making him get married to either a
maiden of his or his father's choice.
O'Brien, who has made a successful career playing creepy, eccentric villains and
assorted characters, does a great job as the slime ball, Pierre Le Pieu, who has
a crush on the beautiful Danielle. His slithery sinister performance inspires
Drew Barrymore to do her best in her scenes with him, showing her character's
personal strength and courage in the face of his sliminess.
interesting to note that Richard O'Brien was the writer of the screenplay, "The
Rocky Horror Picture Show," and even played a large role in the film.
was a stroke of genius to cast the great French actress, Jeanne Moreau, as the
Grand Dame, who has a brief but very important role in the very beginning and
the very end of the film. Her character summons the Brother's Grimm to visit her
at her chateau, in order to set them straight about their version of the Cinderella
The film was shot on location
in the Dordogne region of France. Aided by production designer, Michael Howells,
director of photography, Andrew Dunn, delivers the viewer to a fantastic yet believable
fairy tale world.
There are many memorable
moments in this beautifully made film. A favorite sequence of scenes depicts the
rescue of Maurice (Walter Sparrow), the servant that the Baroness had sold to
pay her taxes.
Another favorite scene
involves the film's masked ball sequence. Barrymore's arrival at the ball, wearing
an incredible gown with wings designed by Leonardo da Vinci, is a wonderful fairy
tale moment perfectly realized for the screen.
Fenton is the gifted composer who is responsible for the romantic, beautiful musical
score, which really adds to the mood and occurrences in the movie.
After" is a great date movie because it offers a wonderful love story. Its
theme of true love triumphing over huge obstacles is sure to warm the hearts of
dating couples of all ages.