Weaving zaniness into Cinderella story

August 30, 1996|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC

A movie review of "Celestial Clockwork" in yesterday's Today section misidentified music from an opera used in the film. The music was from Rossini's "La Cenerentola."

The Sun regrets the error.

Count "Cinderella" among the handful of stories that no

director can really truly screw up, because its story mechanism is so perfectly wound and because its payoff is so deliciously enjoyable.

Thus what is most amusing about "Celestial Clockwork," a French-Venezuelan-Belgian-Spanish (!) co-production opening today at the Charles, is the clever usage it puts to the Cinderella story.


In director Fina Torres' spin, Cinderella is Ana (Ariadna Gil), a Venezuelan opera singer wannabe, who flees to Paris in her wedding gown after leaving her groom at the altar.

There, she falls in with three other Central American women, dominated by evil "stepmother" Celeste (Arielle Dombasle, a Michelle Pfeiffer look-alike), and sets about to make her way.

That Prince Charming is a film director and that the kingdom she is possibly to inherit is a movie role (as Cinderella), not a principality, is part of the charm of this zany, inventive tapestry of multiculturalism.

Torres is a terrifically inventive director, visually. The movie, far from being straight-ahead realism, has a sense of mischief running through it: When Celeste gets annoyed, for example, her eyes are likely to spout animated fire. When Ana sings (from Rosellini's opera "Cinderella") she becomes a music video.

The movie also has fun comparing psychiatry to witch doctoring and mixing up the police and the movie scouts in a farcical attempt to capture Ana before she flees the country. Disney's Cinderella never had it so strange.


'Celestial Clockwork'

Starring Ariadna Gil and Arielle Dombasle

Directed by Fina Torres

Released by Mistral Films

Rating Unrated (some nudity) Sun score***

Pub Date: 8/30/96

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