I completely and utterly adored Belle.
Now, I must say that I’m biased towards animated films, but Belle managed to make me cry. Any movie that brings forward emotion like that must be doing something right. That being said, I agree with my fellow blogger Himaja’s comment about the story of this film being a “big bowl of confusion soup”.
Because this story deals with very heavy topics such as loss and abuse, there are multiple moments of necessary flashback instances where the audience is given the opportunity to better understand what certain characters were going through and how these moments impacted and reshaped them into the individuals they are today. Though the flashbacks are important, I felt their placement in the film didn’t make much sense. There wasn’t a fluid transition between the present and past. One moment I was watching the main character Suzu walking home from school and the next moment I was watching her younger self crying in the rain. It was a confusing part of the movie that had me questioning for a moment what was actually going on.
Another side effect of this movie dealing with heavy, serious topics was the need for comic relief. There were a couple of characters that served this purpose (one of whom wears a particularly gorgeous pair of orange crocs. It’s an important side note I thought you should be aware of). These characters are well written and very loveable. However, they hardly appear in the film. When they do appear, it’s almost as an afterthought, as though the scene was pushed into the story.
All that being said, the film was still phenomenal in my opinion. The animation was gorgeous, especially the virtual world of U that Suzu becomes a part of (fun fact, U was actually designed by an architect by the name of Eric Wong).
The music was powerful, very well written, and tugged at my heartstrings. If you’re curious about the soundtrack, I would definitely recommend listening to Gales of Song. Both the original Japanese soundtrack and the English dubbed soundtrack are beautiful.
I think the most important thing a movie can do is send out a message of love, comfort, and friendship to an audience. And Belle did achieve that. The movie allowed you to connect with the characters and I believe everyone can see a little of themselves reflected in Suzu’s eyes. Yes, the plot was a little convoluted, but I think the most important thing is that everyone left the theater feeling a little more joyful than when they first entered.
I would definitely recommend watching the film!