A SECOND OPINION: Beauty and the Beast

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Lauren Luckett

The worst part about being married to a chef, I imagine, would be losing the ability to eat your favourite foods — the new, more experienced, palate would make old favourites feel bland.

The same goes for being married to a film critic. The cheesy flicks you once loved are now ruined because your darling spouse has pointed out the lacklustre script, the bad lighting, or that crew member standing in the background of the eighth scene. Chris can spend two hours watching a movie, then another two telling me what was wrong with it.

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Long gone are the days when I could gleefully curl up, tune out my brain, and watch Dirty Dancing or Shrek 3. I can’t just sit back and let a movie transport me into another world anymore. It’s an academic process now, because I know I’ll have to be able to discuss whether the director used too many creative angles, or at least hear about how they did.

So when I heard that my all-time favourite movie, 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, was getting a live-action remake, my joyful little heart leapt — and then crashed to the ground. What was my film critic husband going to say about it that would forever ruin the movie for me?

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s certainly my favourite Disney movie. As a young girl growing up in a small town, I was bookish and unpopular, so I identified well with this social outcast, shamed for being intelligent, and dreaming of a way to escape. As a woman who’s often had to deal with the Gastons of the world, I’ve learned about abuse in relationships and Stockholm Syndrome and how these apply to Belle’s story. As the wife to a film critic, however, I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily have great taste in movies.

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

The night before the new Beauty and the Beast hit theatres, I came home to find Chris re-watching the ’91 animated classic. I joined him and settled in to watch the rest. I had come in around the time that LeFou and the villagers sing the rousing “Gaston.”

I referred to the Beast as Adam at one point — the Prince’s real name. When Chris asked who Adam was, I laughed it off. “Oh, that’s the Beast’s real name. I guess only true Disney fangirls know that,” I said, sounding like a Buzzfeed headline. But the questions kept coming.

By the time we reached the final scene, when Belle is weeping over the Beast’s prone body after his fatal battle with Gaston, Chris chimed in: “Wait… Isn’t he dead? Does the rose bring people back from the dead too? Was that in the introduction?” I found myself fruitlessly trying to explain the rules of magic and the physics of why the Beast’s clothes shrank to so perfectly fit Adam. The magic had faded.

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

At the theatre on opening night, I was ready to feel the enchantment again — and ready to put my marriage and objectivity to the test. I had my thematic leggings on, a red rose pinned in my hair, and my own Prince Charming at my side. For the next two hours and change, I sat in splendour (and a pile of popcorn) and revelled at the magic in front of my eyes.

Sure, as the wife of a film buff, I was able to interpret how colour was used to convey a theme, or notice the more subtle differences between the original and the remake, but I saw it as a perfect masterpiece. It was a movie I had been waiting literally my entire life to see. (Seriously: I was born one year before the 1991 movie’s release).

I left the theatre with my girlish heart still a-flutter. It was totally worth the wait. Then Chris asked, “Are you going to divorce me if I didn’t love it?”

Image: Neil Reyes

Now, divorce is an expensive process, with lots of paperwork involved. I haven’t read Chris’s review yet, so I haven’t ruled it out as an option, but I kind of like him a lot and don’t want to have to share custody of our dog, so I let him tell me everything he found wrong with the film (which wasn’t as much as I had feared).

Unfortunately, he was right. I’d been watching it through enchanted-rose-coloured glasses. The 2017 Beauty and the Beast isn’t a perfect movie — it has its issues, which I’ll let him discuss in his review — but it was perfect for me, and I love it regardless. Much like Chris.

(No rating given, but higher than Chris’s.)


 

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