A movie review of “After the Ball”: Portia Doubleday shines in this witty, “Cinderella”-meets-Shakespeare romantic comedy about a hapless fashion designer who can’t get a break until she disguises herself as a quirky male genius. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
If Shakespeare had a go at “Cinderella,” and the result was later adapted for a 21st-century romantic comedy, it might look something like “After the Ball.”
Largely driven by Portia Doubleday’s witty performance as a hapless fashion designer disguised as an audacious male couturier, “After the Ball” is a winning if predictable fable.
Doubleday’s inventiveness as a variation on “Twelfth Night’s” cross-dressing Viola is all the more fun because it’s unexpected: Her character, Kate, seems destined to be everybody’s doormat until necessity turns her into alter-ego Nate, a quirky genius who mows down haters with pure chutzpah.
Movie Review ★★★
‘After the Ball,’ with Portia Doubleday, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Marc-André Grondin, Mimi Kuzyk. Directed by Sean Garrity, from a screenplay by Kate Melville and Jason Sherman. 102 minutes. Not rated (equivalent to PG). Southcenter 16.
Despite considerable talent in the world of fashion, Kate can’t get a break in any of the top houses because her emotionally remote father (Chris Noth) — once a titan in haute couture — has become a knockoff peddler under the sway of Kate’s scheming stepmother (Lauren Holly). The big names all assume Kate would be spying for dad.
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Add a couple of wicked stepsisters, a prince of a shoemaker (Marc-André Grondin) and a benevolent godmother (Mimi Kuzyk), and “After the Ball” — with the dance party and lost shoe, etc. — pretty much writes itself.
What makes this Manhattan-based rom-com (with its stylish wardrobe and infatuation with runway culture) worth one’s time is the Kate/Nate duality — and the endless mystery of how a mask can liberate the wearer’s true self.