A modern day interpretation of Beauty And The Beast? Yes. But if there’s one thing I learned from watching Better Days, Spirited Away, Squid Game and Ponyo, these movies are more than what they seem, such as the case in “BELLE”……at least that’s what I hoped.
Everything about the ambiance of the movie resembles fragments of the lively energy we love Studio Ghibli for; similar to how Miyazaki is able to combine magic with a sense of realism, the traditional Japanese anime style of animation has an uncanny valley between the cartoonish 2D and the staggeringly hyper-realistic 3D to heighten our senses of magic and the supernatural and whenever it sticks, it really sticks. I like most of the songs, the main characters struggle is relatable, beautifully illustrated in the first 10 minutes and a part of me likes how director Mamoru Hosoda uses the main empathetic meat of Beauty and the Beast while not making it so verbatim that it neglects its own characters, most of whom….aren’t engaging in the slightest despite the efforts made. Suzu is the only character with just a silver of intrigue about her and even she’s probably the most aforementioned in a laundry list of sparsely fleshed out cliches.
Not to mention the relationship she shares with the Beast in U was under-developed for the level of love they suddenly had for each other. On top of that, there are some plot holes I noticed, the pace is lolloping, there’s very little grasp on a consistent tone and regardless of what the filmmakers intend for you to believe, this is far from an original critique of Internet culture and any commentary about the effects on online culture don’t rise above the usual schtick on being therapeutic respiratory for some and a toxic wasteland for others. But I am glad to see a movie that attempts to show some of the positives of being online again on top of dissecting into child abuse, self-sacrifice and community responsibility despite not addressing abuse and trauma and even grief necessarily in the most mature or well-rounded sense.
And yet even in that sense, its problematic Congo-line of misguided messages, archetypical characters and lopsided presentation comes from the botched execution of the story being told and not the actual plot itself being terrible. Sure, the story isn’t as scattershot as other films I’ve seen this year and it did have potential but the entire structure of this movie doesn’t feel like one continuous note from a natural progression; it comes off more like this originally had multiple drafts about the same project but got flushed down to combine them both because of the bloated runtime. And trust me, it is VERY BLOATED.
If you told me this project had two different scripts surrounding similar themes but completely separate from one another and they crammed them both in to make up for time, I probably would’ve believed you.
Part of me is just glad that I finally got to see it after FIVE LONG MONTHS trying to find a place to watch this. It’s sweet and endearing in some retrospects, but at the same time, I’ve never felt this……empty about a films wasted potential. Normally when I notice it, I’m more fiesty than usual but here? I’m just not feeling it, man.