Cast: Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux, André Dussollier, Eduardo Noriega, Myriam Charleins Audrey Lamy
Direction: Christophe Gans
Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes
Story: The classic fairy-tale of love between an unlikely pair – the Beauty (played by Léa Seydoux) who falls for the Beast (played by Cassel) after her father becomes indebted to him – gets a retelling.
Review: A wealthy merchant (Dussolier) has come upon some hard times. The downturn in business is something that he cannot recover from so easily unless some really drastic steps are taken. He has a large family to take care of (six children) and living in the big city is simply not financially viable anymore. So, he decides to relocate to the countryside and lead a simple and relatively rustic life in tranquil settings.
His daughters are however, used to their old life and are understandably not thrilled at all at the idea. The only exception is his youngest – Belle (Seydoux) – who actively yearns for mellowness, tranquility and an environment that can soothe her gentle but inquisitive soul.
Later, when in a forest, the merchant ventures into a magical, mystery land that no one knows about. The Beast (Cassel) holds sway here. The merchant tries to steal something and is caught by the Beast who tells him that his thievery will not go unpunished. Belle, racked with guilt that her dad got into trouble because of wanting to get her something nice, steals back to the Beast’s castle and offers to face the punishment. The well-known story then follows its oft-told course till the fairytale conclusion.
Gans opts for a fantastical route rather than exploring the darker side of this tale. He dresses up his characters in costumes that look a bit kitschy; although Belle’s red attire does at times contrast starkly with her surroundings at times. Additionally, some of the scenes between Belle and Beast are too cold. When, as per the fairytale, it is revealed that she loves him, you might wonder whether she’s actually serious as their onscreen chemistry is somewhat lacking. That said, the visuals are elaborate and that makes it watchable. However, there’s a lot more that Gans could have done with this revered and traditional fairytale.