MAG­I­CAL TALE AS OLD AS TIME

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life -

FOR­MER Harry Pot­ter star Emma Wat­son is the lat­est ac­tor to take up a few vo­cal les­sons for a mu­si­cal as the odd but aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing Beauty to Dan Stevens’ Beast.

Liv­ing in a small, se­cluded French vil­lage, Belle (Emma Wat­son) buries her face in books and dreams of a big­ger world out­side of her com­mu­nity.

Mean­while, pompous Gas­ton (Luke Evans) tries to woo her into a re­la­tion­ship and do­mes­tic life, de­spite her mak­ing it bla­tantly clear she is not in­ter­ested.

When Belle’s father Mau­rice (Kevin Kline) comes across a dark cas­tle in the mid­dle of the woods, he is locked up by its in­hab­i­tant, Beast (Dan Stevens), a for­mer Prince who was cursed by an old, va­grant witch.

Belle trades her­self as pris­oner in ex­change for her father’s free­dom and lives with the Beast and his col­lec­tion of house­hold items that can talk and sing – and who try to set the two up to break the spell.

Ex­cept for a few ad­di­tional scenes and songs (Belle gets a bit more back­story via a mag­i­cal book with trans­porta­tion abil­i­ties), Beauty and the Beast is fairly close to the Dis­ney an­i­mated film this ver­sion is mod­elled on.

De­spite the fa­mil­iar­ity and shoe­horned ad­di­tions, di­rec­tor Bill Con­don de­liv­ers a mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence with gusto.

The cast is en­joy­able, par­tic­u­larly those voic­ing the an­i­mated char­ac­ters, but Wat­son bat­tles to reg­is­ter – her looks are ap­pro­pri­ate for the role but her lack of on-screen pres­ence and emo­tional depth in­di­cate there could have been some­one else bet­ter suited.

Lefou (Josh Gad), the highly pub­li­cised openly gay side­kick to Gas­ton, is the weak­est as­pect of the film, with such sub­tle and fleet­ing mo­ments of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity that any­one who blinks will surely miss.

Dan Stevens as Beast and Emma Wat­son as Belle

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