The film inspired by Beauty and the Beast was expected at the turn. Unfortunately, Disney’s communication around his work masks a sad spectacle.

The virtual ink is spreading and stretching in the media and magazines, like a nerve centre around which everything should revolve: How gay is Beauty and the Beast a film?The question arose following the revelations by the Walt Disney Co. of an explicit scene about homosexuality.

Naturally, the press echoed such an event: Disney, after years of silence and ambiguity, is finally ready to put homosexuals on the screen. And if we could ignore this small, yet important event in a world governed by Hollywood myths, it says much about the failure that isBeauty and the Beast, Disney’s latest live-action.

Minor additions and lazy handwriting

Indeed, behind thisgay scene there is in fact only half a second that appears as explicit only to the most scrupulous spectator (adult). A non-event in itself, but which was edited by Disney as a strong element of his new feature film, a marker of his modernity and audacity. And if we measure the audacity of Bill Condon’s film against thisgay scene– which doesn’t even include a kiss – we might as well agree that the film is cowardly, uninspired.

Luke Evans plays Gaston and Josh Gad, The Madman...

Luke Evans plays Gaston and Josh Gad, The Bishop

In fact, the questioning introduced about a character’s sexuality is indeed one of the rare additions of the 2017 writing to the fairy tale already adapted by Disney in 1991. And these additions, which are found scattered in different narrative arcs and on the side of all the characters, are neither silly nor useless – but unfinished.

If we measure the audacity of Bill Condon’s film against the gay scene, we might as well agree that the film is cowardly, uninspired…

Without spoiler, Belle is trying to gain personality. She becomes a young woman rejected for her progressive and feminist ideas in her village. Gaston, the villain, gains an identity and a past, that of the former hero who finds himself deprived of wars and therefore of reasons to live – almost Stendhalian. The Madman becomes the jester of the villain, but obviously fantasizes about the latter.

Each one thus gains his detail, his little extra, but under the pen of scriptwriters who look at the original work with unfortunately too much admiration to be able to go beyond its limits. And that’s where all the additions that make up the 2017 version of the fairy tale come from: certainly cold at the idea of touching its own legend, Disney prevents all the new plots from really intervening in the unfolding of the film.

Palimpsest claimed, limited interest

And with the exception of these very precise additions, which often involve just over five minutes of exposure for each, thelive actiontakes up the language and style of the cartoon with depressing fidelity. Palimpsest claimed,Beauty and the Beastis the reverse formula of all the successful adaptations so far by Disney (Evil, The Jungle Book etc.).

Palimpsest claimed,Beauty and the Beastis the reverse formula of successful adaptations

Why didn’t you push the rewriting work further and in more detail? We can’t say except that we quickly understand that the firm’s main goal was to offer a luminous, moving, spectacular and rhythmic product rather than a fine rewriting of its copy.

But unfortunately for us, when a character leaves the sheet of paper of his cartoon to gain flesh and voice thanks to an actor, he absolutely needs other angles, depth, humanity, incarnation. But here, no character gains in volume, each actor – despite a good casting – is obliged to replicate, shot for shot, the expressions and passions immortalized by the Disney pencils of the 1990s.

the narrative nature of homosexuality is strictly comic…

The best character ends up being Gaston, notably thanks to the strong and perceptible involvement of Luke Evans, who portrays the villain with muscles and misplaced pride with conviction. Crazy Josh Gad is also pleasant, but we still find it hard to accept that the narrative spring of homosexuality is only comical. In short, Le Fou becomes funny because he is the turkey in the farce of his sexual identity: everyone sees that he is enamoured of Gaston, except him, everyone sees his effeminate mimics except him. Mimics which, inevitably, make him a gay prankster,

It’s moderately funny, relatively disturbing but above all monstrously anecdotal, incidental. Just like Belle’s feminism, which distinguishes her from the village mass and leads her, in the end, to live alone in a castle with a Prince because the plebs don’t like cultivated women (strange feminism).

Memories that we keep of the 1991 cartoon, there are often the songs, and the plans. Nourished by multiple inspirations and a major technological evolution, the cartoon introduced a lot of excellence in the realization of a rather simple story. The ballroom scene orBe Our Guest , for example, are visual feats marked in their time and context.

In fact, for a 2017 version, with more means, a technology that allows unlimited dreaming and a live action format, we naturally expected a lot of aesthetic and musical innovations. That’s not the case after all. Bill Condon transcribed, or even translated, each shot from 1991, as for the songs that would deserve a dedicated review for the fans.

So everything looks familiar, yet relentlessly new. The 2017 version is just saying it again when one would like it to say it again –the nuance is crucial. Too respectful and in the permanent wink of an eye, Condon loses sight of his film.

In the end, he delivers a tasteless work, limited and heavy to the digestion so much its emptiness strikes in the heart. Beauty and the Beastis in fact constantly coming up against the question of its own legitimacy: why redo without undoing? What can 2017 bring to a centuries-old history? According to Disney and Condon’s demonstration: not much.

Sad times.

In brief

Beauty and the Beast

Indicative note : 2/5

After an enchanting and extremely well conducted Jungle Book, we were expecting the best for Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, Disney got lost along the way and failed to rewrite its masterpiece. The result is a bland film, with caricatured characters and anecdotes.

More problematic: the studios have tried to play modernity on several points, including a character’s homosexuality, but wallow awkwardly in clichés that, instead of showing progress, end up conveying a counter-message.

Top

  • The atmosphere
  • The decors
  • Luke Evans

Bof

  • No ambition
  • Hollow Characters
  • The treatment of homosexuality

Elsewhere in the press

  • Premiere
  • The Guardian
  • The Verge