ENCHANTED WORLD: Belle (Watson) and The Beast (Stevens) are getting acquainted.
Fans of classics like Beauty & the Beast readily consider them storybook renderings of unconditional love emerging in the nick of time to save the day. But, at its core, B&B is also the tale of a daughter’s devotion to her father, regardless of the clear and present danger her heroic efforts to save his life present.
You get both sides of the coin in this season’s live-action big-screen musical version that’s a pitch-perfect 3D upgrade of the beloved fairytale, thanks to inspired casting choices, splendid songs that stay with you long after the credits roll, and the bold, brilliant directorial oomph of Bill Condon, whose popular film credits include 2006’s Dreamgirls.
Harry Potter’s Emma Watson (who has blossomed into a gorgeous, Ivy League-educated young woman) is fantastic as Belle, the humble farm girl and bookworm who trades places with her father (Kevin Kline), when he’s imprisoned in the Beast’s snow-covered castle. Is Belle the one to break the witch’s longheld curse and restore the Beast (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens) and his loyal subjects – who’ve been turned into teapots, clocks and candlesticks etc (played by the likes of Sir Ian McKelllen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson and Audra McDonald) – to their former human glory?
A jarring but amusing sub-plot involving Belle’s obnoxious suitor Gaston (Luke Evans) and his side-kick LeFou (Josh Gad) cannot distract us from the rich musical splendour that the film provides – (songs like “Be Our Guest”, “Days in the Sun” and the title tune are endlessly lovely) – and the confirmation that Condon hasn’t lost the Midas touch. Tyrone’s Verdict: A-