Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Suzu is a shy high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a globally-beloved singer.
Review: Belle may be inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but this tale of grief, pain, connection and the power of music is so much more.
With this 2021 film Mamoru Hosada has crafted the kind of visual and narrative animated tale that will instantly become a classic that can stand head and shoulders with Studio Ghibli’s best. Telling the story of a young girl named Suzu (voiced by Kaho Nakamura), who after the death of her mother isolates herself from everyone around her. Painfully shy, Suzu discovers a social platform called U (that puts every other platform that exists in the real world to shame) where through the “magic” of science one can freely act on their innermost desires. Here Suzu does what she would never allow herself to do in the real world through her avatar named Belle and sings so beautifully, she quickly becomes a social media phenomenon.
To say more would be to spoil the opportunity for viewers to be as captivated with this movie as I was. Every frame is meticulously crafted and the musical score blends seamlessly with both the visuals and the narrative, pulling you in completely to Suzu’s world. As I mentioned before, Hosada does draw inspiration from Beauty and The Beast, but it never comes across as lazy or uninventive. I would even argue it’s a much better version of the timeless classic as I’m a mega fan of said classic.
The themes explored were made for a generation raised on social media and the movie doesn’t shy away from exploring both sides of the coin. Instead, we’re given the opportunity to see through Suzu’s eyes, the power to change oneself and others for the better, and using such platforms for good instead of just ripping each other apart. My only gripe with the movie is the runtime, which I felt was too long. And the tonal shift from the first act to the second wasn’t as smooth as it could’ve been, yet I would be lying if I said this one didn’t hit me right in my emotional squishy parts.
Belle blends the mythical with the modern with grandiose visuals and songs that will have you reaching for your phone to add them to your playlist. The teenage angst and drama may not be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of animated movies, it’s most definitely worth your time.
Sommer’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
Have you seen Belle? Are you a fan? And you can checkout more great anime film content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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