It took me quite a bit of time after yesterday’s screening of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast to figure out how much I liked it. The new movie, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson, is lovely. It’s visually ambitious, epic in scale, and knows how to use nostalgia to pull fans of the classic animated film right into its musical wonder. But if I weren’t such a (die-hard) fan of the 1991 film, would I still like it as much? While I can assure you that the new film doesn’t quite capture the same magic that made the original such a beloved piece of cinema, it’s an adaptation that fans will appreciate, even if it doesn’t leave new audiences too enamored.
Movies about teen girls and their relationships with each other shouldn’t be so few far and between as they are now in the film industry. Even television is leaning away from depicting female friendships in favor for complicated love triangles and other entanglements. It’s a shame, since growing up sometimes our models for friendship and what it means to be a friend is often provided to us via the media, be it film, TV or books, we consume. While I’m not here to psychoanalyze friendships between teen girls today, I do find great importance in films like Before I Fall, which has a message that isn’t exactly revolutionary but still matters.