Fairytales teach us lessons. Some of them are good lessons, others not so much. Beauty and the Beast tries to teach us. What we end up learning is that corsets are great as distractions, bad accents are cool, heavy breathing is a must; and being a cranky, creepy and hairy monster with dull lines and tons of cash is needed for a romance.
The film is a live action adaptation of an age-old fairytale. But while Disney got it right, oh these guys got it wrong. In a big way. You will not wipe a tear from your eye, you will rub them furiously in order to stay awake. With corny lines and tiresome acting where the most you will remember is heavy breathing. Mind you, while in a corset, Lea Seydoux is extremely enlivening. But we digress. Let’s start with the plot, shall we? Set in France in a period of facial deformity and occasional bathing, the film recounts the tale of a girl, Belle – the youngest of six. Her siblings lack dimension, so much so that they could be dots on a number line. Belle decides to volunteer herself for imprisonment. That’s odd, the old guy gets off scot-free after breaking-and-entering and theft. But the young pretty blonde girl has to be sent off to the castle to be the “house guest” for a large Beast who looks like a house cat (they might have tried to go for a leonine look, ended up with a grumpy cat with a wedgie) dressed up in a sequinned curtain. Now, the Beast tries his best to charm the gorgeous Belle by a series of growls, bribe her with perfectly tailored dresses (these are made to measure by the way, makes you wonder if it is one-size fits all or if there is a phantom tailor somewhere) and rich food. Here is the problem, will Belle fall for these attempts or not? Obviously not, not at first, then she realises that this giant kitty with a hairball stuck in his throat is perfect for her. Moral of the story, manipulation with a little bit of guilt, combined with creep factor of 12 and a bad French accent, is perfect for romance.
The movie tries too hard to make this story seem relevant. In fact, there is very little you can take away from this. The special effects are good in a very early 21st century way. There are flashbacks thrown willy-nilly and you will try your best not to laugh out loud when a corset is used as a means for carrying someone. A period drama it isn’t. It just falls flat in so many different ways. Vincent Cassel is wasted in this movie as the Beast. He could have done so much more. Lea Seydoux looks beautiful, but that’s all she contributes other than heavy breathing. It feels like a such waste. There is no connection felt nor is there any notion of romance that comes across. In fact, since the movie was dubbed into English, you feel that you are watching a very unusual kung-fu film with painful overacting.
Why should you watch this movie?
Beauty and the Beast looks good. Visually, at least. The special effects are not too bad. You will laugh a lot more if you decide not to take it seriously. At the end of it, this isn’t a movie you should watch on your first date, but on the fifth date, when you can laugh at the screen with your better half.