It isn’t often that I watch a movie and see perfection unfold before my eyes, but “Cinderella” is truly flawless. Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation is the greatest telling of Cinderella that has ever been and that ever will be. Unlike many films that have reimagined the classic fairy tales, this one preserves the original story and captures that traditional fairy tale feel. There are some departures from the 1950 animated version but each one adds a new dimension to the characters without altering the key elements of the story. By exploring Ella’s childhood, we get to experience her love for her parents, see where she learned the values that so strongly shape her character, and understand why she doesn’t simply run away when things get bad. The naming of Cinderella creates a definitive moment where she literally and figuratively becomes a servant. Lady Tremaine’s discovery of the shoe allows her to explain why she is so mean. Most of all, I love the meeting in the woods. It changes the entire message of the story as Prince Charming’s love for her is based on her beliefs and her inner goodness instead of a more superficial love-at-first-sight. Every reimagined moment is a success and the themes of courage and kindness resonate from start to finish. Unlike the animated version, this one takes its time and never feels rushed. We get to enjoy the Fairy Godmother for a significant portion of time, the political importance of the ball is emphasized by exploring the event in greater detail, and an extra layer is added to the search for the mystery princess. I also think that it helps for the mice to be included enough that they are seen as her friends but not so much that they story begins to revolve around them. The script set the film up for success, but it was realized with its magnificent visuals and incredible acting. For many young princesses-at-heart, the most important part of the film was the dress and the shoes. I believe that an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design is inevitable - they were everything that we could have hoped for. The film locations and cinematography capture the fairy tale world with relatively little CGI which makes the story more realistic. I would’ve loved a CGI replica of Disney World’s Cinderella Castle but it would’ve taken us out of the moment. The story was great, everything looked amazing, but the actors are what sold this film. Lily James is enchanting. Each facial expression, the delivery of every line, her body language, and even her soft singing out the window all created the perfect embodiment of Cinderella. She makes an elegant Disney princess and yet, she was an equally convincing peasant. Meanwhile, Cate Blanchet brought a lot of depth to Lady Tremaine. Her abusive behavior progresses slowly enough that we do not realize when the transition from disinterest to cruelty has occurred. Richard Madden transforms Prince Charming into more than just, well, Prince Charming, especially with the added focus on his relationship with his father. The evil stepsisters were comical (I was particularly impressed with Holliday Grainger) and Helena Bonham Carter brought the perfect blend of classiness and peculiarity to Fairy Godmother. Everything in this film is tied together by Patrick Doyle’s romanticized score which is subtle and epic, all at the same time. I found myself emotionally on-edge the entire film because it was so magical to experience this classic fairy tale in such a real way. Disney has set the bar very high with “Cinderella” and I don’t know if it will ever be surpassed.