It may not have a singing candelabrum or a dancing cogsworth clock, but Christophe Gans’s Beauty and the Beast does have enchantment, romance, a glum Beast (Vincent Cassel), and a gorgeous Belle (Léa Seydoux). Although the movie only emotionally overwhelmed one of us, both of us were impressed by Gans’s vision and the production design, art direction, costumes, and special effects used to incarnate it. And, though not especially violent or sexual, the movie is enveloped in a gloomy atmosphere that, despite a comic-book-movie third act, leaves an indelible impression. Often relying on flashbacks, narratively, Beauty and the Beast sometimes lacks a center, as Belle and the Beast don’t have enough striking scenes together, though a relationship they do develop. For the better, a lot of attention is paid to Belle’s family—her misfortunate father, her amusingly selfish sisters, and her mixed bag of brothers. With family like that, no wonder Belle gave the Beast a chance.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White