Belle (2021)

Quick Reviews/Favorite Films

Written & Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring the voices of Kylie McNeil, Paul Castro Jr., Ben Lepley, Jessica DiCicco, Manny Jacinto, Brandon Engman, Hunter Schafer, Chace Crawford, Ellyn Stern, Andrew Kishino, Noelle McGrath, David Chen, Jessica Gee George, Barbara Goodson, Martha Harms, Wendee Lee, Julie Nathanson, & Kiff VandenHeuve

Release Date: July 16, 2021

Running Time: 2hr 1min

Rating: PG

AKA: 竜とそばかすの姫, Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, literally “the dragon and the freckled princess”

Suzu is a shy, everyday high school student living in a rural village. Since the death of her mother years prior, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Bell, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer.

One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by site moderators. As their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone.

The film received its world premiere on July 15, 2021, at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it was well-received by critics with a standing ovation that lasted fourteen minutes. It was released theatrically in Japan on July 16, 2021. GKIDS has licensed the film in North America, with a nationwide release date of January 14, 2022, and previews in select IMAX theaters on January 12, while Anime Limited will release the film in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2022. It is the third-highest-grossing Japanese film of 2021, accounting for ¥6.53 billion in box-office rakings as of December 12, 2021.

I’ve enjoyed other films by this director, so I’m always interested in what he does next, especially if I get a chance to see it in theaters. Glad to see that once again Hosoda didn’t disappoint! Besides the always stunning animation, the music is beautiful, the characters well developed, and the story relatable to anyone who’s shy or socially awkward. Reality can often suck, so we seek a way to distract ourselves from that; I think the film conveys this extremely well. There’s also the topic of grief and emotionally locking yourself away from the world, which I also think is handled well. Definitely give this one a watch!

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