I was never a ‘Disney kid’. I managed to avoid nearly all the studio’s nineties hits, including the ‘classic’ Beauty and the Beast. The only one I ever saw on a reasonably big screen was The Lion King, and that was just because I was trapped on a ferry to France at the time.
So I wasn’t going to take umbrage with the live-action remake offensive that Disney seems to be on these days.
I was aware there was a lot of fuss surrounding this particular release. Belle – Ms. Emma Watson – is said to have passed on La La Land for the role, which is pretty understandable; nobody could have known that the Damian Chazelle-directed feature was going to become such an overrated hype job.
Luckily, Watson has come up smelling of roses. She’s made serious bank as Belle and will now have first pick of future roles. She’s young enough and pretty enough – she’ll get her Oscar. Cynicism intended.
In the face of naysayers, Watson’s been busy selling Beauty as a modern, empowering, feminist take on the fairy tale. Her Belle is courageous. Just a simple village girl, she knows her own mind and has no trouble rejecting Luke Evans’s ghastly Gaston.
So despite all the concerns that the movie was going to be a retread of a ‘problematic’ tale, once the friendship between Belle and Beastie is established, he’s revealed as her intellectual equal, and he doesn’t turn on her like a snarling dog later on.
To my utter surprise, Emma Watson is not nails-down-a-chalkboard. (Maybe she wouldn’t have been bad in La La Land; she can’t particularly sing, but then neither can Emma Stone.)
There are probably a dozen things to nitpick (the CGI; the length; the accents) but my audience applauded, and I’ve been happily humming the songs since I left the cinema.