Spoiler-free, if you kept up with the publicity before it was released (>> Lefou)
I finally found my way to the live action version of Beauty and the Beast!! It took me a while to get to it. I must say that I wasn’t super looking forward to it. Remakes are hard to pull off. I didn’t want to be disappointed in one of my favorite Disney films. I steered clear and let the hype die, because I felt the need to form my own thoughts on this movie. When it was first released, I was pulled in so many directions, that I had to leave the scene and forget about it.
Did I go into it with a clear head? Of course not. I can’t rid myself of the love I have for Belle, Chip, Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts, and lastly, the Beast (although my child-self was scared of him at first, and thought he was too pretty in the end). There was also the past animations turned live-actions to consider; I myself LOVED Maleficent, but thought Cinderella was a huge letdown. And Alice in Wonderland had the best luck because it was directed by Tim Burton who did a very nice job mirroring the oddly beautiful world of Lewis Carroll. That’s why going in, I had the lowest of expectations.
Actually, I had prepared for not liking it. The very first moment I heard Emma Watson sing was a … well… I don’t really know what my exact thoughts were. I just knew that I didn’t like the digital distortions and auto-tuning that was going on. It was especially notable, because hers was the only voice being so very ‘enhanced/improved’ (—-I’m not really sure what word to use here). And so, my question is, was her voice really that bad that it needed so many embellishments? If so, why not cast someone who can actually sing? If I had the choice between watching a musical with either an unfamiliar leading lady with a great voice, or with a famous actress whose voice had digital improvements, I would without a doubt pick the former. Maybe that’s just my personal preference, and the regular audience doesn’t pick up on these musical enhancements, but I do, and I don’t like it. I do have to add: it’s not that Emma Watson can’t sing or has a bad voice–she was actually good as a not-singing Belle. It’s just that the rest of the cast had GREAT voices, so hers felt a little out of place to me.
Thus, I was not liking this film.
Imagine my surprise when 30 minutes later, I was smiling and singing along with the songs and tearing up at the memories it brought along for me. I JUST LOVE THIS FILM SO FUCKING MUCH. And I must say that it was a good watch. Was it as good as the animation? No. Did I enjoy watching it? HELL YES!! They could not ruin this film, and they didn’t. It was exactly the same, and I loved that they made Belle a feminist fighting to make her own choices more so than she already did in the original. I was really moved: Beast’s song made me cry, and the ending had me bawling.
One last thing I have to mention. Lefou is gay. The subtext was adamantly clear. But I do not consider this as the revolutionary first openly gay character in a Disney film ever (as Disney would have you believe). The fact that Lefou is attracted to guys was never explicitly mentioned within canon. It’s all fun and games when Disney tells the press that Lefou is gay, but this helps no one when The Straights™ point to the film and say there’s nothing going on. If it isn’t mentioned in the film it gives them deniability, even though it’s obvious, some people can still claim they don’t see it. So no Disney, this is not good LGBTQA+ representation, and I will side-eye you until you give us what we deserve!
Final judgement: I recommend it, but don’t do it for anything other than liking the source material, and don’t expect it to be perfect.