7/21/17

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2014) - REVIEW


Two years before Disney attempted remaking their own version of the classic fairy tale, there was a live-action Beauty And The Beast movie made in France. Since this is a French fairy-tale, this movie had the potential to show the Mouse House how it's done and tell the definitive story.

That said, improving on Jean Cocteau's classic while attracting the Disney audience was always going to be tough but with Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel as Belle and The Beast along with inventive director Christophe Gans leading the way, there was a good chance we would get something at least worth seeing. Indeed, this take on the timeless tale is the most visually impressive out there: the art direction, production design and cinematography are beautiful throughout and even the CGI is pretty effective. This is, in short, a fantastic-looking movie and it's certainly worth a look for that alone. A good amount of time is spent introducing us to Belle's family, showing how their money troubles led them to move to the countryside. Unfortunately, this isn't really necessary as Belle's brothers and sisters don't really have much of an impact on the story and this is time that should have been used elsewhere, developing the Belle/Beast romance, for example.

We are finally introduced to Vincent Cassel's Beast when Belle agrees to become his prisoner instead of her father and, at night, Belle is shown his backstory in her dreams. It turns out that he did have a wife back when he was human but he accidentally killed her which prompted "nature" to curse him and his castle because she was, in fact, a forest nymph. There are stone giants, weird-looking CGI beagles and a magic grave in this version so it's a different take on things, to say the least. The main problem with the film is how rushed and uneven the storytelling can be: Belle falls in love with the Beast seemingly off-camera since they basically share no screen-time together and the Beast goes from wild and creepy to caring in a heartbeat. We're given some of his backstory but, after some time, the film stops giving us explanations so we just have to accept random things happening. Because of that, we just don't buy the Beast's kindness or the more surreal aspects of the film.

This Beauty And The Beast is probably the most beautiful in terms of visuals but it lacks coherence when tackling key parts of the story. Apart from that, this is a welcome alternative to the popular musical versions even if I would still recommend Cocteau's superior original instead.

Slick yet flawed retelling.

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