Trap for Cinderella dramatically explodes with a fire in a tranquil French villa leaving Micky (Tuppence Middleton) with serious burns and a complete loss of her memory. Fortunately for Micky, her guardian Julia (Kerry Fox) is there to steer her in the right direction and help her regain her past. But when Micky’s ex-boyfriend Jake (Aneurin Barnard) reveals information about Micky’s close friend Do (Alexandra Roach) that Julia has been keeping from her, Micky decides to go to her old apartment in London to investigate what else Julia’s been keeping from her. There, Micky discovers an old diary of Do’s — is this the key she has been looking for to unlock her memories? And if so, are these memories worth remembering?
Do and Micky, friends since their youth, couldn’t be more different. Micky, living it up as a photographer in London and partying till the wee hours of the morning, is confident and outgoing. Do, on the other hand, is a bank clerk who is painfully meek and mild. Do, Micky comes to realize, was more manipulative than her diminutive veneer suggested, however. Not content with her own identity, Do sought Micky’s as her own in a manner not dissimilar to “Single White Female.”
Unfortunately, Iain Softley’s adaption of Sébastien Japrisot’s novel of the same name is nowhere near as good as Barbet Schroeder’s thriller. Instead, it gets overly complicated as it cuts between the past and present in an all too obvious attempt to create suspense while trying to build a credible backstory. And the narrative is over-egged with far too many obvious twists and turns, bluffs and double bluffs, to the point where Trap for Cinderella verges on farce.
Softley, a director who has worked with big acting guns such as Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey in the past, gets it right at least with his decision to use relatively unknown actors as Tuppence Middleton and Alexandra Roach practically carry this film on their “young, British actor” shoulders (he did similar with a young Angelina Jolie in 1995’s “Hackers”). Middleton gives an admirably convincing depiction of both a pre and post-amnesia Micky (her struggles with the sense of loss, especially so). Roach, who played a young Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” gives the outwardly mousy Do the internal dark side needed for a character who is so desperately plagued by obsession and desire.
But while the leading ladies of Trap for Cinderella do their job to the best of their ability, they don’t get much support from their supporting cast. Aneurin Barnard doesn’t get much leeway to spread his wings with his minor role and the accomplished Frances De La Tour as Aunt Elinor can’t rise to the challenge to make something of the underdeveloped relative to Micky. At least Kerry Fox brings intensity as Micky’s protector, but she is very one-note and wears her character’s intentions on her sleeve which doesn’t help with the “suspenseful” nature of the movie.
Then again the movie itself doesn’t help with the suspensefulness of the movie. Trap for Cinderella unravels and inadvertently gives away its secrets so simply and quickly that audiences, unlike Micky who is trying to recover her memory, will likely think this is one experience they’d rather forget.