A retelling of the classic fairy tale set in post-war Rome. Once upon a time in post-war Rome: 13-year old Aurora, a gifted pianist, is the daughter of Valerio, a brilliant conductor. After Aurora's mother died, Valerio hired Irene (pronounced eh-rhen-eh), a single mother of two girls, to run the household. To Aurora's regret he decides to marry Irene. One day, Aurora happens to meet the boys next door, Freddy and Sebastian, the sons of a wealthy Italo-Austrian family. Freddy is an easy-going chap, though sometimes a little bit arrogant. His brother Sebastian is kind and shy, with a great ability to listen to and understand people, which makes him win Aurora's heart. However, Aurora's life is shattered when her father suddenly dies. Irene, the unloved stepmother, lays hands on the family's assets and turns her late husband's villa into a hotel. Aurora is unable to claim her right to inheritance until her 21st birthday. Irene makes her give up schooling and piano playing. Instead, she has to work as a maid in the hotel. Irene's own daughters, Lucia and Teresina, never miss out on an opportunity to tantalize the poor girl. Years later, Aurora has become a young woman. She secretly plays the piano on an improvised keyboard on the windowsill. The employees of the hotel keep her company and became her surrogate family...
This film provides examples of:
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with, Aurora initially prefers the nicer adorkable Sebastian over his brother, Freddy, but by the time they reunite as adults, he is practically a snobby playboy.
- Cinderella Circumstances
- Cool Old Lady: Ms. Cooper obviously plays this straight, though she also serves as a deconstruction, as she has a past, as she disowned her own daughter, who was also Aurora's mother.
- Sebastian's mother and Veronica more straight examples, though they may be too young to qualify.
- Disposable Fiancée: Tina; while she never acts particularly villainous, she does take advantage of Sebastian, and is clearly marrying him out of convenience.
- Financial Abuse: Irene did legally inherit the villa, but attempted to prevent Aurora from inheriting the money that would have rightfully belonged to Aurora, anyway. When the authorities discover this, she is forced to give up her right to the villa to Aurora as well.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Gender-Flipped with Freddy and Sebastian. Of course, Aurora's conflict with her stepsisters is the darker variation of this trope.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Aurora.
- Lost Will And Testament: Played With. Technically subverted in that Valerio did leave a will and Irene legally inherited the estate through it, though the assets would have transferred to Aurora on her 21rst birthday. Irene later lies that a clause in the contract allowed her to steal Aurora's inheritence. When told this, Aurora reminds her that she has a copy of the will and knows she is lying, though she forgets this plot point as soon as it is mentioned.
- Only Child Syndrome: Subverted, the story's Prince has a brother, his death is a plot point. It is also mentioned that Valerio had sisters, though they did not offer to adopt Aurora after her father's death, though it is possible that Irene would not have given her up anyway.
- Rich Bitch: Tina, who clearly takes advantage of Sebastian's money. Irene and her daughters count too, though they started out poor.
- Spiritual Successor: The film is practically a more sophisticated remake of A Cinderella Story. There is the subplot of the stepmother preventing Aurora from getting into a university, a subplot with a hidden will, a subplot with the prince having an evil ex-girlfriend, a subplot with the prince trying to please his father, a subplot with the stepmother's servants helping Aurora (and quitting in defense of Aurora after Irene steals the money she needed to leave.) The ball is even a Black and White masked ball!
- The Un-Favourite: Sebastian and Freddy's father seemed to prefer Freddy and Freddy's death did not make things easier.
- Of course, Irene abuses Aurora while indulging her natural daughters.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Sebastian to his father.
- Wicked Stepmother: Irene.