×

Film Review: ‘Cinderella the Cat’

With its slick, creative animation and enjoyable tunes, “Cinderella the Cat” is one of the best Italian animated films of recent years.

Director:
Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Dario Sansone
With:
Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Calzone, Alessandro Gassmann, Mariano Rigillo, Renato Carpentieri, Ciro Priello, Federica Altamura, Chiara Baffi, Francesca Romana Bergamo, Anna Trieste, Gino Fastidio, Enzo Gragnaniello, Marco Mario De Notaris. (Italian, Neapolitan dialect dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5432712/

Slick, creative animation and largely enjoyable music make “Cinderella the Cat” one of the best Italian animated films of recent years and a step up from co-director Alessandro Rak’s well-regarded 2013 debut, “The Art of Happiness.” This time, Rak and equal collaborators Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, and Dario Sansone are again in Naples, using a riff on the Cinderella story to comment on the city’s failed promises while also making sly asides about Italian corruption in general. Jazzy numbers are the best in a full score, and the use of 3D software incorporated into the 2D format creates a fantasy world of evocative multi-plane imagery. Adult animation lovers will feel rewarded, and international distribution could result if buzz is strong enough.

Visionary scientist Vittorio Basile (Mariano Rigillo) lives on his vast ship in the Bay of Naples, where he makes plans for the betterment of the city. Preoccupied by grand projects and his imminent marriage to vixenish singer Angelica Carannante (Maria Pia Calzone), he’s entrusted the daily care of young daughter Mia to bodyguard Primo Gemito (Alessandro Gassmann). But just after the wedding, Vittorio is murdered by Angelica’s drug dealer lover Salvatore Lo Giusto (Massimiliano Gallo).

Years go by, and the once pristine ship is a rusting hulk where ghostly holograms from forgotten technology float in the air alongside the projections of frayed memories from happier times. Angelica, her five daughters and drag queen son Luigi (Ciro Priello) wait for the day when Salvatore will make her his wife, but he’s busy with plans to expand his cocaine business and turn Naples into the biggest money-laundering park in the world. Poor mute Mia has grown accustomed to abuse by her stepmother and family when not being neglected in the bowels of the ship, yet when she turns 18, Salvatore has new ideas about her that Gemito hopes to thwart.

There’s a sharp streak of cynicism running through “Cinderella the Cat,” made more potent when viewers have a bit of background knowledge about Italian politics. Salvatore’s origins as a cruise ship singer inevitably elicit parallels with Silvio Berlusconi’s early years, and the failed hopes for a resurrected Naples are painfully topical. The film plays on a number of clever riffs on the Cinderella tale, all in the darkest of veins, from the sadism of Mia’s step-siblings to Salvatore’s drug empire built on shoes made from soluble cocaine.

Appropriately sinister lyrics lend further grit to the overall picture, adding a surprise element to the generally up-tempo songs, notably a crooned celebration of Naples’ underbelly by the sleazy Salvatore. The time period is kept vague but with a distinct retro feel, as if set in a backward-looking present, and the painterly animation, full of reds and earth colors, straddles the line between new and old. A steady rain of falling cinders from Vesuvius acts as a reminder of the story’s Cinderella roots, while also conveying the impression of a city on the verge of nuclear winter. Together with the ghostly holograms, it lends the film a satisfying, magical multidimensionality.

Film Review: 'Cinderella the Cat'

Reviewed at Cinema Adriano, Rome, August 21, 2017 (In Venice Film Festival – Horizons). Running time: 86 MIN. (Original title: "Gatta Cenerentola")

Production: (Italy – Animated) A Videa release of a Mad Entertainment, Rai Cinema presentation of a Mad Entertainment production with Rai Cinema, with the participation of Big Sur, in collaboration with Skydancers, Tramp Ltd., O’groove, in association with Optima Italia. (International sales: Rai Com, Rome.) Producers: Luciano Stella, Maria Carolina Terzi.  

Crew: Directors: Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Dario Sansone. Screenplay: Barbara Ciardo, Annarita Calligaris, Antonia Emanuela Angrisani. Animation: Laura Sammati, Ivana Verze, Danilo Florio. Music: Antonio Fresa, Luigi Scialdone.

With: Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Calzone, Alessandro Gassmann, Mariano Rigillo, Renato Carpentieri, Ciro Priello, Federica Altamura, Chiara Baffi, Francesca Romana Bergamo, Anna Trieste, Gino Fastidio, Enzo Gragnaniello, Marco Mario De Notaris. (Italian, Neapolitan dialect dialogue)

More Film

  • Nina Wu Midi Z Un Certain

    Midi Z on Cannes Title 'Nina Wu': 'I’m Aiming for a New Cinematic Language'

    Taiwan-based director Midi Z has become a star of the art-house scene in Asia. The appearance of his film “Nina Wu” in Un Certain Regard in Cannes – already getting strong buzz ahead of its screening Tuesday – is the highest-profile festival berth for the helmer and for lead actress Wu Ke-xi, who recently signed [...]

  • Detective Pikachu Tops Overseas Box Office,

    'Detective Pikachu' Repeats No. 1 at International Box Office

    Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “Detective Pikachu” remained the top film at the international box office for the second weekend in a row, amassing $53.8 million from 72 foreign markets. The Pokemon adaptation, featuring the voice of Ryan Reynolds, is nearing the $200 million mark overseas. It has currently earned $193.4 million abroad, taking its worldwide [...]

  • Medienboard Fetes Its Five Films in

    Medienboard Fetes Its Five Films in Cannes Film Festival

    Pictured: “Little Joe” director Jessica Hausner, Martin Gschlacht, one of the film’s producers, Kirsten Niehuus, with director-producer Cordula Kablitz-Post. Berlin funding agency Medienboard’s managing director Kirsten Niehuus hosted a cocktail reception on Saturday at Grand Hotel in Cannes to celebrate the five films it funded that feature in the festival program. The five films are [...]

  • Radegund

    Cannes Film Review: 'A Hidden Life'

    There are no battlefields in Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” — only those of wheat — no concentration-camp horrors, no dramatic midnight raids. But make no mistake: This is a war movie; it’s just that the fight shown raging here is an internal one, between a Christian and his conscience. A refulgent return to form [...]

  • John Wick: Chapter 3

    Box Office: 'John Wick 3' Knocks Down 'Avengers: Endgame' With $57 Million Debut

    Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put up a good fight, but John Wick put at end to the three-week box office reign of “Avengers: Endgame.” Propelled by positive reviews, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” beat expectations with a debut of $57 million from 3,850 North American locations. That was enough to nab the box office crown [...]

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r)

    Submissions Now Welcome for Third 'Meet the Press' Film Festival

    Chuck Todd’s quest to bring “Meet the Press” to the movies continues. The third annual Meet the Press Film Festival, held in collaboration with the American Film Institute, will take place on October 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C., and remains a haven for issue-focused documentary shorts. Todd believes the event serves a critical mission: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content