Once Upon A Crime (2023) Movie Review – Netflix’s modern take on an old classic

Netflix’s modern take on an old classic

Once Upon A Crime is a Japanese fairytale drama that takes the classical, well-known fairy tale characters and reimagines the twist in their stories if a crime were to happen amongst them. The story is set in the Clair De Lune Kingdom, whose citizens are obsessed with beauty standards to the extent that the only requirement to enter the palace is just to be beautiful.

The story focuses less on the Prince finding his princess but on a murder mystery that Little Red Riding Hood has to solve. We all know the story of Cinderella, an orphan girl who lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters who bully her into being their servant. Cinderella wants to attend the ball, but the stepmother and stepsisters do not allow it. The godmother steps in and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”; a lovely gown, a carriage, and glass slippers.

The Japanese Movie Once Upon a Crime is a breath of fresh air to the typical Cinderella storyline by incorporating a crossover with Little Red Riding Hood. Red Riding Hood sets off on a journey to see the world and she crosses paths with Cinderella. The two girls attend the royal ball and get entangled in a murder mystery.

Little Red Riding Hood and her magical deduction skills make her the endearing Nancy Drew in the movie, and she has to solve the case. 

One amazing element of the script is that it is simple without excessive subplots and executed interestingly in a fun and comedic way. For instance, instead of the fairy godmother, we have witches with faulty powers; one can only make beautiful dresses, while the other can only make glass slippers. In contrast to the original story, where only Cinderella has glass slippers, the witch in this series is very generous, and everyone gets a glass slipper.

The scenery is also beautiful, especially the forests, river, and Cinderella’s house. The women are dressed in exquisite gowns and unique hairstyles. The dancing at the ball is also flawless and mesmerising, while the mystery and the suspense are well written. This will actively keep viewers guessing, and the plot twists are hilariously unbelievable. 

On the other hand, the movie is a bit of an endurance test. It’s extremely slow-paced, with prolonged dialogues that keep going on and are excruciatingly dull. The characters are void of emotions, and it is haphazardly executed when they try to show it. It felt more like watching a stage play, not a film. However, it added an exciting spin to the classic tale of Cinderella and her Prince Charming.

The characters are different from the classic fairy-tales too. Little Red Riding Hood is a brilliant detective; Cinderella is mysterious and difficult to understand. Unlike the classical kind, sweet, and gentle person, Cinderella in this movie is manipulative, jealous, and vengeful. Prince Gilbert is not obsessed with beauty, and his true love is not Cinderella.

But above all of them, one of the more endearing and interesting characters is that of Barbara. She’s a good witch who is not good with shoes. She is comedic, and all her scenes leave the viewer laughing. 

Overall, the movie brings a new look to the fairytale genre away from the romance storyline and introduces a murder mystery plot. It is nothing like the classical genre, and this works because it disrupts expectations and brings something unusual and unexpected to the Cinderella character.

Cinderella is human, too, and people can get tired of being bullied and decide to have their revenge. The movie is a mix of mystery, comedy, and fairytale, and once you get over the prolonged dialogue and dragged out pace, there’s enjoyment to be had here.

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  • Verdict - 6/10

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