Watching a musical in the theater is an enchanting experience. With a touch of Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone’s tone and a good music to back them, beauty and the beast is a delight to witness.
Emma Watson steps into the shoes of one of the most beloved Disney characters. One of the common trivia of most Disney princesses is that they are all anti-feminist in nature and damsels in distress. Belle is an exception and Watson, being a feminist in real life, joins the feminist retelling of the same. A handsome prince, when he dismissed an ugly lady looking for shelter is cursed by the same person and he is deemed to be a beast for all eternity unless true love breaks the curse before the last petal of the rose (given by the enchantress) falls. While the film watching experience, overall, is a pleasant one, the predictability is a major drawback. The movie begins with the prince being cursed by the enchantress and in a way, we see his “handsome” appearance initially. It would have been nice if the film began with Belle and she ends uncovering the mystery behind the prince’s ghastly appearance. In this case, from the beginning, we know what will happen and how the movie will end. Belle is a determined and pleasant young woman, who has integrity. She does not wear a corset, too much makeup or jewelry, teaches young kids how to read (which is visibly a taboo) and says a clear no to Gaston (Luke Evans) who lusts after her. She wants something beyond everyday life she experiences in the village, she wants adventure.
The movie presents the “distress” scenario is reverse manner. Belle plays the knight in shining armor and saves her father and the beast at several instances. She puts herself in the cage and saves her father, who was imprisoned by the beast for stealing a rose. She knows what she wants in life and pays more attention to educating herself. She does not think twice before going to save her father who was falsely accused of being mentally unstable. She prevents Gaston from killing the beast when she could. She may not be the macho heroine but she tries at every point. The movie barely passes the Bechdel test though it would have if she interacted with her mother. Her mother’s sacrifice is the most touching scene from the movie. Emma Watson is apt for her role. As opposed to finding beauty in “sexiness”, Belle is shown as a simple woman with a pleasant smile on her face. Beauty in simplicity and virtue. Emma delivered a controlled performance and her singing voice is honey dipped though at times she does shake off. Dan Stevens is fantastic as the beast. The beast has enough depth and although he was introduced in a repulsive manner, you will end up liking him. Luke Evans brought in a bit of Shaw and Bard in his performance. Ian McKellen is hilarious and Emma Thompson shined in comic timing.
The movie is a sure nominee for production design, costume design, visual effects, music, and editing. The dance sequences with Belle and the beast shows an environment of pure fantasy and imagination. The fight sequence between the “object” and people is both hilarious and has a scope for sound distribution study. 😛 Personally, I find those films with too many VFX irritating. I despised too much CGI in Alice in wonderland. But in this film’s case, except for one or two situations, the overall CGI is relatable. The direction is apt, welcome back Bill Condon!!!
The film as such, need not be perfect but it is worth watching. More than that, the feminist retelling will please you,