Ask me what Disney film OST I first listened to and I will tell you, without batting an eyelash, that it was 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. I fell in love with the tale as old as time re-telling of how true love allows you to look beyond appearances in seeing the beauty of a person’s heart. Of course, I knew the story was adapted to suit their target audience. La Belle et la Bête, however, is a more adult approach to the story of our childhood.
The thing with French films, unlike their Hollywood counterparts, is that they’re very straightforward. No subplots were inserted if they weren’t necessary to the story. Even Belle’s siblings each served their purpose in the narrative.
Léa Seydoux’s interpretation of a feisty Belle was such a delight. She was no pushover and certainly gave the Beast a challenge in winning her affections. Can anyone say, girl power?
Vincent Cassel, however, was clearly the most unusual yet perfect choice to play the Beast. Feel free to contradict me otherwise but had this been a Hollywood production, the role would’ve gone to some actor more well-known for his good looks than his acting chops. Christophe Gans and the casting director gambled on Cassel which made the Beast’s vulnerability more heartfelt after his backstory was shown. Oh and yes, he and Léa certainly had chemistry despite the age gap.
Aside from the characters, the cinematography itself was one for the books. The castle scenes alone, especially during the battle part, were a visual feast. I’ve seen the film twice and it gets better for me with each viewing. Do not be intimidated by the subtitles nor be discouraged because the leads don’t conform to Hollywood standards. For being an unconventional yet impressive take on a childhood fairy tale, that alone makes La Belle et la Bête worth two hours of your time.
* Reposted from my old blog – original entry dated October 19, 2014