By Jan Tuckwood, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Published 12:01am ET March 23, 2015 | Updated 9:29am ET March 23, 2015
Cinderella’s wicked stepmother never looked so green.
As played by Cate Blanchett in the new “Cinderella” movie, the evil Lady Tremaine wears dresses in every shade of green — from avocado to olive to pistachio.
Blanchett’s satin ballgown for the big palace scene is so green, the Oscar-winning actress called it “the gherkin.”
With her fashion, Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine revealed on the outside the putrid envy eating away at her soul.
Her evil character is getting more attention than the darling Cinderella, and not just because of Blanchett’s stellar acting.
For the first time in film, the motives behind Lady Tremaine’s cruelty seep out. She is an angry, twice-widowed, desperate, fading beauty with two self-centered, silly daughters and no way to support herself beyond the wiles of her womanhood.
“She had known grief and wore it wonderfully well,” the movie’s narrator intones.
Jealousy became her wardrobe and her ruler. And the beloved and impossibly kind and beautiful Cinderella became her target.
“Why are you so cruel?” teary Cinderella asks her stepmother at one point.
“Because you are young, and innocent and good,” Lady Tremaine replies. “And I …”
Blanchett’s original line was “And I am not,” according to The Atlantic. But Blanchett doesn’t finish her sentence, instead letting the line trail off. Director Kenneth Branagh preferred the line that way, so audiences could fill in their own blanks and stew for a moment in the jealousy bubbling from the stepmother’s core.
Jealousy is a familiar emotion, and one that licensed mental health therapist Connie Ingram sees a lot in her practice in Royal Palm Beach.
“Jealousy is more than a major issue, it’s cancerous to the soul,” Ingram says. “Jealousy comes in many forms and often disguises itself as ‘justified.’ Jealousy is energized by the idea that someone owes me something. You owe me, I owe me, even God owes me …. Looks, skills, opportunity, money, health, inheritance, etc., these are the things others have that we lack … so we’re jealous.”
Just as Lady Tremaine’s jealousy governs her every interaction with Cinderella, jealousy ruins every relationship, Ingram says.
“The target of the jealousy is not the problem,” Ingram says. “There will always be someone richer, skinnier, or even luckier than you. Until you find a way to deal with your jealous heart you cannot have a safe relationship. You cannot love or be loved well.”
Jealous people are cruel or petty to others to make themselves feel better. This “wreaks havoc and irreparable damage to any relationship, corporate team, and even ministry teams,” Ingram says. “Jealousy slowly eats away like a cancer in your own soul. The irony and the tragedy is that the remedy is not to balance the scales. The only remedy is to change your heart.”
Blanchett told Reuters it was this exploration of envy that drew her to the character.
“It’s very easy to play someone who’s just bad, but then hopefully understanding what makes someone tick. I think an exploration of jealousy amongst women is an interesting thing to explore on screen,” she said.
Cinderella’s kindness provides stark contrast to her stepmother’s cruelty, and kindness was another emotion director Branagh wanted to explore.
“(Branagh) kept talking about kindness as a super power, which I think has taken the story into a contemporary arena,” Blanchett told Reuters. “In this cutthroat world where economics is everything, if you stop and pause, have empathy and kindness towards someone, then people can walk all over you. The fact that her goodness and kindness triumphs, that it really truly is a super power, is a wonderful message in the contemporary world.”
“Jealousy portrays the true condition of our heart more than any other of the negative heart attitudes. Greed, anger, shame and guilt are others.”
— CONNIE INGRAM, licensed mental health counselor from Royal Palm Beach
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