Beauty & The Beast – Movie Review
By Michael Ronald
**** – Brilliant Remake of a Classic
A retelling of the children’s classic starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Luke Evans has been awaited with much excitement and it doesn’t fail to disappoint. Though the art of mixing music and story in a manner appealing to both children and their parents is an intricate task, the director has created a beacon for a family night out at the movies.
The tale is old and storied. Belle, the village girl living a serene, ordinary life in a French province, is led to a ruinous castle after a chain of events threatening her father’s life. The castle’s brooding facade is intriguingly and humorously made more palatable by it’s witty occupants ornaments. Belle’s relationship with the master of the house (and that term gets emphasised once you watch it) is the crux of the fairy-tale.
Critical Cast Analysis
Emma Watson (Belle) – Is perfect for the role that tests all her abilities as an actress. Being vital to the majority of scenes, she portrays the spirited, non-conforming Belle with gesture-perfect aplomb as she sings and runs from one difficult scene (full-throated songs, grappling with imaginary wardrobes) to the next.
Dan Stevens (Beast) – Dan Stevens appears in human form during the prologue, in which his vain prince is depicted as an unpleasant, selfish man before an enchantress appears and zaps him with a slightly unreasonable curse. Hence, he’s in full Beast feels, with a voice, giant horns and with more hair than Anil Kapoor. As much as he booms, the wounded, despairing soul beneath the bluster is accentuated excellently.
Luke Evans (Gaston) – Hilarious, vain and sinister, Evans embodies Gaston’s narcissism with effortless precision. His hanger-on/protege Le Fou, played by Josh Gad is a scene stealer, with his adulation of Gaston evoking much laughter and mirth.
The supporting cast of the dancing, singing household staff, expertly voiced by luminaries such as Ian Mckellan and Ewan McGregor are all brilliant in keeping the viewer quite engaged while following Belle’s adventure.
When Emma Watson has agreed to act in a movie, you’re quite certain the female lead won’t flutter about in the background. An activist as strident and vocal as she is, Watson doesn’t settle for a role with no message to communicate.
The story of Belle, an intelligent, spirited woman who feels cooped up in a small town which just wants her to settle down is deeply empathetic. Defying Societal and Peer expectations, her characteristically stubborn and engaging portrayal follows the determination of Disney and other Studios to imbue their female characters with more spunk and determination. Belle simply wishes to live her dreams to have the life she always wanted. Why should the town or anyone stop her?
Definite watch for the family. With a strong female lead and entertaining, if predictable, storyline, it’s a a great experience. The film is paced well, with no portion receiving undue attention or melodrama. The songs are decently timed with the main characters and town being introduced in a breezy fifteen minutes of music.