Beauty and the Beast: Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel in a fairytale for the young and old

Having been adapted on numerous occasions since the birth of cinema, the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve was very much in need of a special-effects update. This has now been done with a French-German co-production that remains very true to the original story, directed by Christophe Gans (who with this title has directed his fourth feature film, following Crying Freeman, Brotherhood of the Wolf and Silent Hill).

The director has assembled a cast of internationally renowned French stars: Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Mesrine, Ocean’s Twelve) and Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour, Farewell My Queen, The Diary of a Chambermaid), as well as André Dussollier (last seen in Life of Riley by Alain Resnais) and Spanish actor Eduardo Noriega (A Gun in Each Hand). They are joined by such names as Audrey Lamy, Sara Giraudeau, Nicolas Gob and German actress Yvonne Catterfeld.

Beauty and the Beast makes extensive use of special effects and computer-generated images to bring to the silver screen the story of a merchant (André Dussollier) who, after stealing a rose from the Beast's garden, finds himself condemned to death by the Beast. He will be saved by his youngest daughter, Belle (Léa Seydoux), who in exchange agrees to become a companion to the monster (Vincent Cassel).

The film's aesthetics, both in terms of the costumes and the fabulous settings (the film also received the 2015 César for Best Production Design), will undoubtedly captivate the very young audiences, especially if they do not know the 1991 Disney adaptation of the story.

Léa Seydoux's beauty and vulnerability make her a convincing fairy-tale princess, and the scenes in which Belle explores the enchanted castle, or in which she does everything she can to get back to the Beast, are the most visually impressive.

Written by the director together with Sandra Vo-Anh and shown as a world premiere out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014, Beauty and the Beast has been hugely successful at the French and international box office, taking no fewer than 1.82 million admissions in France and 4.39 million abroad in 2014 – thus ranking internationally as the third most successful French film of the year, behind Lucy by Luc Besson and Serial (Bad) Weddings by Philippe de Chauveron.

It is available from 30 April via video on demand in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Sure to tempt the whole family, from the very young to the very old.

29 April 2015, by Cineuropa

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