Director: Bill Condon (Kinsey, Gods & Monsters, Dream Girls)
Remake of 1991 Beauty and the Beast
Screenplay: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay) Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (Tale By)
Producer: David Hoberman
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 129 min.
Something unexpected happens when familiar tales are re-imagined for new audiences. Since much of the story is well-known, it allows those gathered to focus less on the story, and more on the voice doing the telling. Plot and prose take a back seat to cadence and inflection, which can bring new life and luminosity to a well-known story…
…or it can screw up the story entirely.
It’s a tale as old as time.
Once there was a young prince (Dan Stevens) who lived a lush life in a grand castle. One night, as he’s holding a lavish ball when disheveled beggar woman comes calling, he mocks her before turning her away. Seeing the vain and uncaring nature of the prince’s heart, the beggar – actually an enchantress – casts a spell on him, his home, and everyone in it.
He is turned into a hideous beast, and his court all household items. So they will stay until their master can learn to love.
Years later, in the town at the foot of the hill, a young girl named Belle (Emma Watson) is the misfit of her town. While other girls her age pine for marriage, she seeks independence. While others slave over the washing, she invents ways of doing chores faster. While others in town drink and gossip, she only has eyes for the pages of her books…and her loving father (Kevin Klein).
When her father takes his wares to sell, his wagon gets lost on the road. After surviving a wolf attack, he seeks refuge in an isolated castle that seems largely abandoned…but for the roaring fire in the hearth. Inside, he meets what has become of the court; Lumiere, now a candelabra (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth, now a clock (Ian McKellan), Mrs. Potts, now a teapot (Emma Thompson)…and the furry and frightening lord of the manor. The Beast doesn’t take kindly to strangers – especially ones who help themselves to roses growing in his garden, so Belle’s father becomes his prisoner.
After fighting off advances from the beefy and smarmy Gaston (Luke Evans), Belle is alerted to her father’s disappearance. When she makes her way to the castle to search for him, she bargains with The Beast to take his place instead.
The Beast agrees, sends father on his way, and holds Belle in his place. The court sees this unfold and wonders aloud if she might be the one to teach their master to love and break the curse?
But who could ever love a beast?