Director Bill Condon’s musical feat is a remarkable, joyous, feast for all audiences; an intelligent, insightful tale; its contemporary message, alive and pertinent, regardless of the era. Alan Menken’s musical score partners perfectly with a scintillating cast: Emma Watson is sublime as “Belle”, intellectually secure, more than just a pretty face, realizing her “uniqueness” is not an obstacle but an advantage in her diminutive French town; Kevin Kline, Belle’s father “Maurice” shines in his devotion to his daughter and the emptiness experienced by the loss of his wife; Luke Evans, positively, pungently, caddish as the foppish “Gaston”, seeking Belle’s hand in marriage; Josh Gad superlatively imbues “LeFou”, Gaston’s sly sycophant, with jest and irony; Dan Stevens as the “Beast” is a genuine gift of Disney’s 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast”; his transformation from King to hoary, grisly leviathan, is tempered by his loneliness and sadness; intrepid Belle ignites his hibernating humanity and together they discover their mutual love of literature, poetry and gaiety. Enchantment ensues as their connection thrives.
Marvelously effective are the lessons we gleam from the songs sung by the anthropomorphic candelabra, clock, cup and saucer, wardrobe, dust-buster; “faithfulness comes with a price”, “looks can be deceiving”, “honesty is always the best policy”; animation enhances the magical glory of the scenario.
“Beauty and the Beast” is a welcome respite from gloom, gore and apocalyptic fare, ubiquitous on today’s screen.