Micky is a fun-loving photographer, living a party lifestyle in London until a chance encounter with a childhood friend changes her world forever. The polar opposite of gregarious Micky, Do is a quiet bank clerk with no social life. Micky is eager to reacquaint herself with her old friend, but when they return to the French countryside villa where they spent so many happy summers in their youth, tragedy strikes — a fire engulfs the building, leaving Do dead and Micky badly burnt and suffering from amnesia. Unable to even recall her own name, Micky is forced on a shocking journey of self-discovery. But nothing — friends, relatives, lovers and even herself — is as she remembers it.

This tale of obsession is based on the popular 1962 novel by Sébastien Japrisot. Trap for Cinderella won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and was previously adapted for the screen in 1965 by director André Cayatte under its original French title, Piège pour Cendrillon. Director Iain Softley (Backbeat, The Wings of the Dove, Inkheart) spent twelve years in his quest to make a new version of the story and the result is a suspenseful, taut, moody thriller. Trap for Cinderella stars Tuppence Middleton (Tormented, Trance), Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady), Kerry Fox (An Angel at My Table, Welcome to Sarajevo, Bright Star) and Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo). I spoke to the director about the film.

trap_for_cinderella_posterDanny Miller: How did you get involved with this project? Were you a fan of the novel by Sébastian Japrisot and/or the French-language film by André Cavatte? 

Iain Softley: I read the novel but I’ve never seen the film or heard from anyone who has! Japrisot himself said it was a very limited release. I was gripped by the novel when I read it, the twists and turns of the plot, but also the way it got inside the heads of both girls. It was also very eloquent about the way that we often envy people or their lives, when if we were in their shoes, we might take a different view. In fact the observation in the book that one’s unhappiness will not necessarily be solved by switching lives with someone else is a central theme of my film The Wings of the Dove, too. This is a very loose adaptation of the novel. I really only became confident in the script when I made it about people that I had known who were close to me who were similar to the main characters. A number of scenes in the film are not from the book at all but are taken from situations that I have observed firsthand.

You do such a great job of creating a very specific mood of uncertainty in this film. I was never quite sure if I could believe what I was seeing which I found very fun. How did you go about creating that atmosphere? 

The story deals with memories and flashbacks that suggested to me the idea that much of the film should feel dreamlike. The sequences in London have a lot of music, scenes in clubs and in Mickey’s apartment, and in France the landscape of mountains and ocean. One of the things I like most about filmmaking, and which is a feature of all my films, is putting images together with music to create an  evocative immersive experience.

You’ve directed such an interesting range of films. I was a big fan of Backbeat and can’t believe it’s been almost 20 years since that film came out. I’m also a big fan of The Wings of the Dove. Looking back, are there are particular themes that you think exist in all of your work?

There are similarities in my films that I wasn’t necessarily aware of at the time that I was making them. Many of the films are about people who are trying to find themselves in some way, and an encounter with a significant person or group of people that is critical in that journey.

Over the past to two decades, I think it has become more difficult to get the sort of films that I am interested in financed. Indeed, the films that inspired me like Don’t Look Now, Clockwork Orange and 2001, for example, would have had a difficult time in today’s environment. However what does work in my favor is that with every film I make I learn something new and feel that I am getting better at my craft.

Would you like to do more American films? Do you think there’s much of a difference between working in the film industry in the UK and the U.S.?

I’m just editing a thriller called Curve which is produced by Jason Blum for Universal Pictures. I shot it in Los Angeles recently. It stars Julianne Hough who is amazing in the lead role. Tariq Anwar who edited Wings of the Dove for me is editing and I’m pretty excited about it.

A number of UK directors think that the ideal is to alternate between the UK or Europe and the United States. Despite the fact that the global box office is increasing, and that more big films seem to be shot in the UK than in Hollywood — the new Star Wars is shooting at Pinewood — it is still very important to have a relationship with Hollywood regardless of the subject matter or where one shoots. Most of the actors, the distributors and most of the big agents are based in Hollywood, and without the support of those groups it is very difficult to get a film off the ground.

Trap for Cinderella is currently playing in select cities and is available on VOD and digital platforms (including iTunes and SundanceNow).