After the Ball is a beautiful revision of the traditional Cinderella story. With so many different versions out there, it is refreshing to see one that not only modernizes but also adapts the story in such a way that it becomes more than a simple retelling of a well-known tale.
The film focuses on a struggle that can be understood by people of all ages: finding a place in the world, and being true to oneself. This adaptation is set in the realm of fashion and designers. Kate Kassel (Portia Doubleday) aims to be a top designer, but despite her evident talent, she finds herself trapped in the shadows with no job available.
The company Kate wished to join denies her entrance because of her father’s reputation. Her father, Lee Kassel, was said to have stolen and redesigned an idea from that same company and marketed it as his own, and Kate is viewed as a potential spy for her father’s company, Kassel.
Family is one of the central themes of the film. Kate’s relationship with her father is tightly linked to her motivations and actions throughout the movie. She originally joins Kassel to establish her own design career, but her motivation changes when she discovers the company’s diminished ideals and her stepmother’s growing influence over the designs, her father, and ultimately, the company.
Fashion has often been associated with superficial or exaggerated beauty, but this film shows that there is a quality of personality imbued within it. Fashion is about finding a balance in perception, but it also a matter of connecting with individuals. A design can be beautiful, exquisite even, but also revealing of the person underneath.
Kate’s stepmother forgoes the creative side and strives for profit instead, creating a demanding, lifeless environment that seeps through the company into the retail stores.
For Kate, making money is secondary to making the customers feel worthy and beautiful with the clothes they wear. She truly cares about her father and seeks to repair her ties with him as a daughter and a designer, aiming to mend the fraying connection between the Kassel designs and their customers.
Throughout it all, love is rendered as a side plot. Kate’s stepmother and her stepsisters never interfere with her relationship with her prince charming as they do the original tale. Upon meeting Daniel (Marc-André Grondin), a shoe designer, there is an immediate attraction. Their relationship develops gradually, making the result more believable than after only one night of dancing.
Kate’s godmother owns a vintage shoe store named After the Ball, and she and her friend Richard, are always there to give Kate advice.
The title is also a reflection of the sequence of events that happen after initially falling in love.m After all the misunderstandings are cleared up, and beyond finding a happy ending or discovering true love, Kate is able to repair her relationship with her father and find love with Daniel. More importantly, though, she becomes a better version of herself.