Beauty and the Beast
(La Belle et la Bete – original title, 2014)
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux, André Dusollier
Directed by: Christophe Gans
Written by: Sandra V-Anh, Christophe Gans
Based on the book by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Beauty and the Beast was screening as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival in Melbourne, so I headed down to the lovely Westgarth Cinema with a few friends to watch it.
There are a lot of lovely dark themes going on here about love, loss, loyalty and greed – all of which were in the original tale.
I would like to have seen the script writers developing the relationship between The Beast and Belle a little more. The Beast actually had little to redeem him and she still fell for him. (All right, he provides a ton of treasure to her dad and gives her pretty much anything she wants while she stays with him. That might be enough for some people…) Yes, I KNOW it’s a fairy tale! At one point I thought, “Good lord, this girl is suffering Stockholm Syndrome.” His redemptive act comes later, in that he loves her enough to let her return home at the risk of his own life and does actually sacrifice himself for her toward the end. Ok, that worked – he’s redeemed. Although I still suspect he’s going to be a work in progress…
The film opens with a scene of a young mother, clearly Belle, reading a fairy tale to two children from a book. It is all very quaint and reminded me of the old movies I watched as a kid. I liked this touch as the movie is, after all, a fairy tale. Although at this point I must admit thinking, “I hope I picked the right movie for my friends to enjoy.” I did pick the right one. They were mesmerised for all 112 min of it.
Vincent Cassel is suitably beastly and Léa Seydoux is perfectly good and naive. Belle’s siblings are still the same shallow, spoiled bunch they were in the fairy tale, with the exception of her youngest brother. Despite this – I loved this movie. Why? – Because it is beautiful. The world which Belle inhabits is suitably drab, bleak and dark. When she enters The Beast’s world, our eyes feast upon wonderful lush sets and fabulous CGI, rich colours and costumes. I delighted in the use of often contrasting colours and light and dark – there is wonderful intriguing darkness here too of course. It’s all very atmospheric. There are some stunning slow mo shots – watch out for the clip of the beast chasing Belle across the ice. (This one is in the trailer too.)
The script writers have worked in a detailed back story for The Beast which involves the love of a wood nymph and the revenge of a forest god. Just roll with it because it provides more fantastical creatures and some cool CGI in the mega battle at the end, when a gang of robbers come to steal The Beast’s loot; all thanks to Belle’s despicable brother. (Note – I did actually like these additions!)
Would I watch it again – you bet…It was PRETTY and SHINY… had happy ending and appealed to the big kid in me.