Beauty and the Beast: An Ode to Square Pegs in Round Holes

My friend who arrived to the United States at the same time as I did – which is around fall last year – is a big fan of this Disney movie; she attended a special screening with merchandise and bonus attributes that costs nearly $40. And that is the first time she’s been in a movie theater since last Summer. She waited two hours to avoid traffic and congestion and she texted me to kill time. Obviously, she’s so hyped about this film, and when she went out of the cinema, she is definitely satisfied. She took me to see this film to hear about my opinion about it. Well… throughout the film I thought of something; that I can see myself watching this film playing in a film-only television channel in three years because I have nothing better to watch. Probably by then I’ve already bored of watching episodes of Love It or List It or Keeping Up with the Kardashians or one of those food shows hosted by Guy Fieri.

To straighten things out, I was never a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast – the animated film never stuck with me throughout my childhood memories, compared to other works such as The Lion King or the epic trippy journey that is Fantasia. However, this 2017 reproduction reminds me on how charming the whole ordeal is. Like, seriously. I got reminded that the plot (albeit seeming to enforce ideals about bestiality to most skeptic viewers) is charming, the music is charming, and, justified by the magnificent costume, hair, and production design (pretty sure everyone can go home now because they’re going to snatch next year’s Oscars), it makes me dwell in the charm of this fantasyland.

The performances are… well… okay. I’m not really a fan of Emma Watson’s performance here, but Luke Evans carried the film doing a successful job playing Disney’s embodiment of the straight white boy “;)” emoji, Gaston. But the highlight of the film’s acting is the voice performances. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts (which my friend set her performance equal as Angela Lansbury), and the GOAT (and also GOAB – Greatest Of All Broadway) Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe did excellent performances in fleshing inanimate objects to life and gave them fierce, distinctive personalities that is so authentic to the original Disney film. The singing? I love the songs of the inanimate objects so much, but there’s one thing that bugged me – the Belle reprise isn’t as grand of a reprise as I hoped. And I still long for the day for a new musical film to have vocal performances as strong as 2012’s Les Miserables. Well, in Broadway standards that’s a low bar to go by, but that’s one of the strongest singing performances I’ve seen in mainstream movies.

Hm, what about the whole Lefou being gay thing? Could’ve been gayer, but, at least, this is a nudge in the right direction.

landscape-1478513336-belle-and-her-father-beauty-and-the-beastEmma Watson and Kevin Kline in Beauty and the Beast.

However, this film reminds me of the modern society’s pursuits in romance. Belle is stuck in her provincial life where she is ahead of her society – a society that glorifies simplicity and underrates knowledge. If she were to stay in her society, she would end up with Gaston – someone who’s got the looks but will never get along with Belle. Belle went on to seek the Beast/Prince – someone who, obviously, doesn’t have the looks of a human, but gets along with Belle.

I recently picked up Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance (it’s a really great read!), where Ansari collaborates with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to research about modern approaches in dating and relationships. There is a chapter solely dedicated to online dating and I was surprised to find out from a source in the book that 22% of couples in 2010 met each other online, compared to 29% of them meeting from friends and 24% of them meeting in bars! The chapter proceeds to discuss pros and cons of online dating, including talking about Tinder. Through Tinder, a user would pick their preferred partner based on their first impression on them, and would chat when they match. The drawback of this is that a user may pass on someone who’s not that good in their first impression, but could’ve been a perfect personality match to them.

It’s fascinating how this eighteenth-century fairy tale could relate to this age of modern romance. In a world of Tinder, Belle would’ve passed on Beast and will be bombarded with the “;)” emoji by Gaston. Belle would’ve thought the Beast as a normal beast (not a prince in a curse) and pass on him as people would do, and will be stuck in her provincial life, where she is an outcast. The point being, this film further emphasizes that one’s personality is where the heart lies and a super hot person might be a terrible match – and it’s important to remember that in this age of online dating.

Lastly, I love on how in this film it is emphasized that Belle and the Beast are both outcasts and forms their bond through that fact. This film is, really, an ode for the outcasts, for those square pegs in round holes. Beauty and the Beast has an empowering core all wrapped up in a no-other-stuff-to-watch material façade that manages to make my friend get freaked out head-over-heels about it and I… got the songs stuck in my head for a few days.

★★★½

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patriciaksmngtys

Patricia K. is an Indonesian computer science and theatre student based in Seattle, Washington. When she's not busy coding in Python or understanding Edward Albee's plays, you can find her watching movies or talking about them.

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