The Rules of Attraction, by Sarah Brinks
In the 18th century, it was the German doctor Franz Mesmer who first theorized about animal magnetism. Personally, I don’t buy it, but we have all known someone who seems to have a certain “je ne sais quoi.” There are those people who draw others to them, who seem to get more out of life then the rest of us. Being around someone like that can be intoxicating, and a little addictive. In Trap For Cinderella, Micky is that drug to Do.
The plot for Trap For Cinderella is difficult to describe because there is a mystery/twist to the film that I don’t want to spoil. The film begins with a house exploding and a girl going to a Swiss hospital for considerable cosmetic reconstruction. She wakes up to find herself bandaged and without her memory. She learns that her family is all dead and her aunt’s person assistant Julia is the closest thing she has to a guardian. She returns to London with Julia and tries to remember her old life. She reconnects with an old boyfriend and finds out she wasn’t the only person in the fire; her friend Do died in the fire. Before the fire, mousy, shy Do reconnected with her childhood friend Micky and quickly got sucked in Micky’s intense, frenetic world. Do got so caught up in Micky’s life she begins to loose her own identity. As the old wisdom goes: when you stand too close to the fire you will get burned, or, in Do’s case, out shined. After she returns to London, Micky find Do’s diary and reads about their friendship, which we see in flashbacks. The twist/mystery is revealed about half an hour into the film. The mystery of what really happened in the fire is the focus of the rest of the film.
The ground tread by Trap For Cinderella is not new territory. What like about the film is that the structure makes it so you care about the characters; both Micky and Do are sympathetic and selfish, and the mystery they are maintaining throughout the film is enough to keep you interested and on your toes. With the exception of a slightly over dramatic conclusion the film plays keeps everything believably real. Trap For Cinderella manages to not go as far left field asMatchstick Men or as off the rails as Single White Female. Though it does capture the same feeling of obsessive energy as those films.
Trap For Cinderella seems like an unlikely choice of projects for director Ian Softley. Softley doesn’t have a really definable style, having directed such disparate films as Hackers, K-PAX, Skeleton Key, and Inkheart. I have seen five of his nine films, and I would have to say Trap For Cinderella is my favorite. It’s a mature film that uses a non-linear structure in an interesting way. Softly wrote the screenplay for Trap For Cinderella based on a Sebastien Japrisot novel. The film does show extreme versions of the relationships women can have, but it was not overly sensational. Men and women are attracted to Micky because she is a magnetic person. Several times in the film, Julia describes Micky as “exceptional,” and she is. The depth of that attraction, love, jealousy, and desire is all captured on the screen.
Tuppence Middleton plays Micky and Alexandra Roach plays Do in the film. Both girls give very good performances. The most is asked of Middleton and she delivers. She plays the vivacious Micky to the right degree and also plays a wilted version of herself after the accident. Do plays the wallflower believably but also finds a nice balance between obsessed and insane. Do’s behavior is what allows the twist to be as effectively mysterious as it is. You are never quite sure what the truth is until right at the end of the film and even then you could believe it isn’t the whole story. Kerry Fox plays Julia who is probably the real villain of the film. Julia is a human version of a snake in the grass, lying in wait to strike when opportunity presents itself. In many ways she is the perfect reflection of Do. Fox occasionally goes a little too “mustache-twirling bad guy,” but it isn’t enough to hurt the film.
I can easily recommend Trap For Cinderella. It isn’t a perfect film, but it is captivating, well acted, and well made. It is fun to wade through the various perspectives shown in the film to get to the real truth. When the film started I was afraid I was in for another unsuccessful films about obsession like the Katie Holmes vehicle: Abandon. To my great happiness Trap For Cinderella was the complete opposite.
TRAP FOR CINDERELLA opens in select theaters and will also be available to watch on Cable VOD, SundanceNOW and other digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon Streaming, PS3 Playstation Unlimited, XBOX Zune, Google PLAY and YouTube) beginning December 13th.