I am not a movie critic, and I don’t know a damn thing about what critics look for when they watch a film, but when I see a movie, I pay attention to how it makes me feel. And after seeing the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, in theaters today, I know this…
I’m 31 years old, and for the first time in my life, I cried because a scene in a movie was so beautiful. Not at all sad or heartbreaking… because yes, of course I’ve cried then. I am human… But this. This was absolutely lovely. I had tears falling down my face because what I saw in front of me was the work of hundreds of talented people — actors, artists, musicians, engineers — culminating in this 4-minute sequence that was nothing short of magical.
I’m 31 years old, and for the first time in my life, I cried because a scene in a movie was so beautiful.
And I really don’t mean that in any kind of cheesy way.
But from the moment Belle (Emma Watson) walks down the stairs in her iconic yellow gown and greets the loveable Beast (Dan Stevens), all dappered up, they perfectly capture that human emotion; the adorable, nerve-wracking “is this a date?” first date between two people who have only ever been friends.
Then the music kicks in… Howard Ashman’s Oscar-winning theme from the original 1991 animated film. The perfect stringing of violins as the doors open to the grand ballroom, and Belle reaches for her friend’s hands, and places one on her waist. He gulps. And the ornate French design of the room combined with the mystical CGI of the animated characters (seriously — how do these CGI animators do what the do?!).
Then the romantic dance. You know the scene. We all love that scene.
And that was that, and it was beautiful, and I cried!
The whole movie was like this fresh, reimagined, adult version had been brought back solely to remind me — to remind us! — of all that is beautiful and good in the world, the way we saw it as children.
Which yes, the movie 100 percent tugs on every ounce of nostalgia you have for the original film, even mirroring many of the scenes, frame by frame. I mean, mirror it all you want, Bill Condon; I frickin love it.
Now let me backtrack a tad because yes, I am a superfan. Is it true I’ve been excited to see this movie since I first heard about it almost two years ago? Yes. Was I completely obsessed with the original and wanted to be Belle and sang her namesake songs on the streets of Provence when I was there last year? Yes. Had I been listening to the soundtrack all day leading up to seeing the film? Yes.
But did I have any control when everyone in the theater applauded at the end when the credits rolled? No… no I did not. And I definitely had no control over people applauding at the end of “Be Our Guest.” Have you ever experienced people applaud during a movie? Neither had I. It’s that good.
Here are a few more notable reasons why I absolutely loved this movie and everyone should go see it:
#1. Scenes I didn’t enjoy in the original — the pub scene, the mob scene, the creepy asylum guy scene, and basically any non-Belle-centric scenes — are brilliantly resuscitated by the comedic timing and adult humor of Josh Gad (LeFou), Kevin Klein (Maurice), and Luke Evans (Gaston) — the latter of whom, since I’m being perfectly honest, was also an absolute treat to look at considering our lovable hero was half-animal.
#2. Speaking of which! Belle and the Beast are kind of adorable. Watson triumphantly delivers on the headstrong, brilliant heroine we all love; and Steven’s Beast is this dorky, excitable guy with kind eyes. The exact man we want that girl to be with. (And I appreciate that the movie perfectly addresses the whole “but he’s an animal” weirdness from the first movie. It’s made clear to Belle that the Beast is a cursed human before any kind of feelings start to develop. Props for that.)
#3. The moms are put back into the story. It’s a well-known trend that most major Disney princesses are motherless. A bizarre phenomenon of the animated Disney golden age, but I loved seeing both Belle and the Beast’s mothers in this story (a plot point similar to the 2015 live-action Cinderella remake), as well as a bit of backstory.
Why did the castle staff get cursed just because their arrogant master was a douche bag? That’s explained. Why was the Prince such an arrogant douche bag to begin with? Explained. Why do Maurice and Belle live in this tiny, quiet town if they’re both explorers and inventors? Answered! I love me some solid reasoning and boy did this movie deliver on that front.
#4. I mean, Josh Gad’s LeFou is exactly how you’d imagine a human LeFou. Only he’s a bit more logical and a lot more awesome than the original. The Internet needs to cut it out with this drama over his sexuality. Yea, he’s gay. And he’s perfect. Moving on…
#5. I really enjoyed the new original songs. As a fan of super emo lyrics, the new-to-the-movie song that the Beast sings after giving Belle her freedom and watching her ride off, expecting never to see her again, had me recalling all kinds of teenage angst over lost love. Download it: it’s called “Evermore” performed by Dan Stevens. Who knew Matthew Crawley could sing like that?
#6. The scenery! Talk about taking a virtual trip to the rolling hills of Provence (even if they are all CGI). Breathtaking.