Beauty And The Beast
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans and others
Rating: * * * ½
There couldn’t be any urban kid above the age of three who does not know the story of 'Beauty And The Beast'. For grown-ups there’s another connect altogether--this has the gutsiest heroine of all fairy tales. Bill Condon has directed a live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 animated film, with lush production values, rich CGI and a wonderful musical score with many popular numbers and lively choreography.
The story written sometime in the 18th century works perfectly well for a modern audience, though it can still be a little scary for small children. The proud prince (Dan Stevens, hidden under layers of make-up for most of the film) is cursed by an enchantress to look hideously ugly; only true love can save him, but who could love a beast?
He lives in a grand, cursed castle his various enchanted servants and talking objects like Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Condon regular Ian McKellen), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) — all beautifully created with visual flair.
Emma Watson makes for a wonderful Beauty—pretty but not overwhelmingly so, and with a look of dignity and courage, the young woman needs in large measure when she has to stay in the castle to save her father’s life.
The story is known—after some resistance she falls in love with the Beast, and the tears she sheds when he is dying, lift the curse and the two live happily ever after—which is the point of every bedtime story for kids.
This film created some controversy by introducing Disney’s first openly gay character in Le Fou (Josh Gad), who is the sidekick of Belle’s vain suitor Gaston (Luke Evans). But the focus remains firmly on the love story, and Condon tells it like it is, without trying to add any contemporary politically correct touches. The film is spectacular and fun to watch—for kids and grown-ups.