I don’t think I’ll write a review of this movie (I might eventually) so here’s just a brief list of the things I really appreciated in the new Beauty and The Beast (2017):
They allowed Belle to straight-up reject Gaston. They didn’t write her lines or her delivery as coquettish and overly polite. Belle gets to pretty much say, Gaston, I am not interested in you and you need to accept that. They did not portray this as her being shy or hard to get. Her rejection towards him was confident and clear.
Kevin Kline was an immaculate choice for Maurice (Belle’s father). He infused even his first appearance with such sincere emotion. Watson and Kline had a remarkably believable, familial chemistry on screen.
The costuming was much better than I expected. It had a surprisingly authentic spin on the original cartoonish costumes. They clearly studied the fashion of 1600′s France and attempted to stick closely to its style for this and it worked out very well!
The supporting cast forces white people to be reminded that Black People Are Not Some Kind of Recent Invention.People of colour lived throughout Europe in the 1600s. There are interracial couples and characters of colour at the forefront who weren’t used for stereotypical ends. The librarian that Belle visits at the very beginning was a black man and that was sort of the starting point for me where I was like, they took historical accuracy in more than just the costumes and they didn’t whitewash for the sake of/with the excuse of “it’s fantasy”/”its europe”/”it’s the victorian era”
They make a joke about a main character being illiterate in a way that isn’t rude, was actually funny, and again a historical nod to the fact that many would have been illiterate in that time period.
The Beast is not a petulant man-child who is changed by a Good Woman. His character is further fleshed out in a way that put me at ease about how the original tale is really Stockholm Syndrome dependent. A lot of questionable morals that can be gleaned from the original Beauty and The Beast dissolved under the weight of added context, better character dialogue, better pacing, etc.
The Beast gets a solo song and it’s GREAT???
Really well written dialogue and soundtrack all around. The majority of dialogue was much more witty than I had ever expected. Le Fou (Gaston’s hype man) had some lines that fell flat for me but he was the comedic relief character anyway, and enough of those made the audience laugh, and weren’t tacky jokes.
Yes, it’s implied that Le Fou is gay as you may have heard, but 1. only later in the film once we’ve gotten to know and like him, and 2. its NOT used as a joke. For the most of the film we see an interesting and nuanced dynamic between him and Gaston that gives a lot more life and likability to the character. The audience is only really invited to think about Le Fou’s sexuality once its appropriate, not when it can be used against him (and only very briefly, and once again and most importantly not as a form of humor). Le Fou is Comedic Relief but not Comedic Gayness.
Gaston’s character was given so much more strength and complexity and it made for a VERY NUANCED AND ENTICING villain. He’s given more background, and that background helps contextualize his desires and his tragic flaws way better. He’s no longer just a man lusting after a woman and jealous of her furry boyfriend, he is a man who unwittingly chases the thrill of conquest to his own demise.
Sir Ian McKellen was the clock guys HE WAS THE CLOCK MAGNETO WAS THE CLOCK
I watched as people walked in the gardens
outside the hospital, struggling to distance myself from the acute sound that
seemed to be permanently whistling inside my ears. It was the sound of immediately before – the universe’s cry
of warning that catastrophe was imminent. I found myself trapped in that
moment, long after the physical pain was gone – after weeks in the intensive
care unit, I was finally starting the skin grafts on my back –, paralyzed in a
life-changing moment. Doomed to stand in the frontier of what I had been and
what the blast had made me become.
A couple was strolling nearby, the woman
holding the bundle of their newborn baby, the man enraptured, dutifully keeping
watch over a couple of celebratory balloons, announcing a perfect boy in
I had seen myself in that life, before. My hand
entwined with a faceless woman – her eyes mysteriously the colour of strong
whiskey, enough to inebriate me with its fumes -, mindlessly walking towards a
shared house, a shared life. I couldn’t fathom such a thing now – the explosion,
caused by a gas leak at my apartment building at the university, had tarnish
skin and dreams alike.
The breeze kept everyone outside mercifully
comfortable, under an otherwise hot sun. It was only the second time I had
ventured to go outside, wearing the notorious grey pajamas from the hospital,
which marked me as belonging somewhere else other than sitting on a bench under
the leafy tree.
The sense of disconnection from everything
around me was crushing – I felt like I was standing inside a glassed cage,
looking at people with normal lives, unable to find an escape to join them. Jenny
and Ian visited me daily, trying their best to cheer me up and to bring me back
to myself – I had no heart to tell them that only dust and fragments had
remained from that man. I was alive, thankfully
– but had no notion of what to do with that surprising gift.
“May I sit down?” A woman asked me. I nodded,
not bothering to look at her – instead I curled more into my robe, making
myself invisible, biting my bottom lip to avoid moaning with pain from the
stretching skin. Breathing, moving, walking – everything came with a renewed
cost, as if to remind me that my survival still demanded sacrifice.
She sat on the other end of the bench. I saw
her blue sneaker dangling spiritedly on the periphery of my vision, as my
nostrils were filled with the smell of rosemary and lemon.
“Excuse me.” The voice next to me said,
somewhat timidly. “I could swear I know you, but can’t really figure out from
I tilted my head and looked straight into the
Her eyes were the exact same shade as ten years
before – I would recognize them anywhere, even if I couldn’t recognize her
brown curls or her tentative smile. My jaw dropped an inch, as I stared
flabbergasted at the girl from the graveyard.
“You!” I babbled, nervously fumbling with the catheter,
skilfully taped to my forearm by a kind nurse. “Ah – yes!” I tried to recover
seeing her confused look, silently kicking myself for blurting. “We have met
once – many years ago.”
“You’re the boy from the cemetery.” She said
slowly, her hawk eyes studying my face. She had an adorable wrinkle of
concentration between her brows. “Ellen’s son!”
“Aye.” I smiled, shyly. “I dinna think ye’d
“Of course I do.” She nodded, offering me a
kind smile. “I always pay my respects to Ellen, whenever I visit my parents.”
I couldn’t answer – my throat suddenly thick
with emotion, as words and feelings nestled like a snake around my vocal
chords. That she remembered her act of kindness as vividly as I did – and that
she had kept watch over my mother – deeply moved me. I gave her a – I hope –
grateful nod and looked away, composing the emotions that ran wild, raw and untamed,
after the accident.
“Are you a patient here?” She asked. I raised
my eyes to look at her again and noticed she was wearing a white uniform, akin
to the nurses I was used to see, with an identification card that read “C. Beauchamp. Trainee.”
“Aye.” I swallowed hard, attempting at nonchalance.
“I have the pleasure of being a guest of the Burn Unit.”
“Ah.” Her eyes softened – it marvelled me how
they changed so significantly, reflecting her states of mind. I was prepared to
see the pity that always followed such a statement – but it never came. Her
face was a mirror of sympathy and concern – but she wasn’t about to treat me as
an invalid. “Good thing you’re able to come outside, then. Such a splendid day,
today! I had been dreaming all morning of eating my sandwich outside.”
“Do ye work here?” I questioned, watching as
she unwrapped and bit her sandwich – egg and tomato on rye bread – with a
satisfaction that made my own mouth water.
“Nurse in training.” She explained, closing her
eyes in delight for the utter brilliance of her simple pan. “Actually it’s my
last day here.”
“I wish I could say the same.” I gave her a lopsided
smile and she laughed – a bit too loud and carefree, like a delighted child.
For a moment I forgot where I was and why I sat so uptight – she made me forget
things. She made me remember others too – transparent things, important things,
that could carve the exit from my self-imposed prison.
“The food isn’t that bad.” She joked, offering
me some salt and vinegar chips that she had started to munch. Her eyes searched
the plastic bracelet on my arm, easily reading my name there. “Jamie.”
“Hmmm.” I smiled, conceding at the personal
treatment. “I’m afraid I miss my morning parritch…” I looked at her
expectantly, waiting for her to reveal her identity in return.
She laughed, playfully saluting me with her joined fingers like a soldier. “Nice
to meet you. Again.”
We stayed in amiable silence, as she completed
her picnic-style lunch and I continued to study the world around me, through
the eyes of a dead-man walking. But the trees where suddenly greener again and
the distant voices seemed to speak to me, teasing me but finally within my
“Thank ye,” I said slowly, tapping my fingers
on my leg – much thinner than usual, muscles having been consumed in the
furnace of my recovery. “For not asking - about what happened.”
Claire glanced at me – I saw again the same
wise-beyond-her-years look, the soul that knew pain and how to heal it, which
had held me together ten years before. “I didn’t think it mattered.”
I raised my brows, surprised. “It’s all
everyone wants to talk about.”
“You can tell me, if you want to.” She licked
her lips for crumbs and smiled, tilting her chin to expose her face to the sun.
She resembled a lazy cat, stretching under the warmth, gathering enough energy
to wreak havoc afterwards. “But I know you’re here and whole and that’s enough
“Is it?” I whispered, smiling beyond myself.
“Yes.” Claire threw me an evaluating glare, like
she could read into my soul and was ready to challenge the defeatist thoughts
that resided there. “Is it enough for you?”
“It hasn’t been…” I admitted, brushing my
unusually short hair – another thing lost during the first days in hospital
care. “But perhaps I’m beginning to see things differently.”
“I’m glad.” She smiled tenderly – and she
seemed truly content. For the first time in weeks I noticed my heart galloping
inside my chest, strong and lively, as able to be moved and broken as ever
“Jamie!” Jenny waved at me from the door,
calling me to get back to my room – it was time for another dose of intravenous
antibiotics and physical therapy. I raised my hand in response and slowly got
up – whimpering and trembling a little, to my mortification. Claire’s hand quickly
came to help stabilize me, holding my chest, as if she had guessed that my back
was the source of all pain.
“Ye should be a doctor.” The words burst from
my mouth, sounding strangely calm and confident. “Ye’ll be a wonderful nurse –
but ye could be a brilliant doctor.”
She looked surprised – an image that suited
her, for it was screamed from every trembling muscle, flutter of lashes and
promise of smile in the corners of her mouth. Claire’s face spoke of truth as
mine spoke of loss and of gratitude to her.
I waved in short goodbye and walked away slowly,
holding my crutch for support.
When the physical therapist pressed me to give
more, I gritted my teeth and did it, even if cursing every generation before
him inside my head. When the nurses applauded the results of the healing
grafts, I allowed myself to share the happiness, instead of focusing on
everything still left to be done. When the quiet night came, I closed my eyes
and dared to plan a life to come.
Claire Beauchamp. The woman who seemed to appear
when my need was greatest. I wished I could talk to her and tell her that I had
been scared – of living and failing to be enough – but she had healed me, like
new and joyous blood cast into my veins. Unfortunately, I had only her name –
no phone or address I could use to contact her.
The next time I saw her, she was wearing a
black dress, in the middle of a night with no stars.