This isn't exactly a review. I wasn't terribly impressed with the live-action Beauty and the Beast. It was okay. A little more backstory, sure, but nothing like the Cinderella remake.
Beauty and the Beast used to be my very favorite movie. A heroine who loved to read and had her own horse? I was hooked. I loved idea of learning to love, rather than falling in love.
But I saw Belle's and the Prince's relationship differently after I married. I realized that happily-ever-afters are really just in stories. That people who are abusive stay abusive, people don't really change. So I was hoping that the new movie would revitalize the story for me, and help me see the beauty again.
I didn't learn what I wanted to. As I was watching Emma Watson's Belle and the Beast develop their relationship, the sudden realization came to me that I identified much more with the Beast than with Belle.
At that point, the story completely changed for me. It was no longer about falling in love. It was about forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for never being enough. For always falling short. For being imperfect. For being ugly. For making huge, earth-shattering mistakes, the consequences of which are also bourne by innocent people.
My seven-year-old poignantly summed it up two nights ago. "Mommy, it's okay to make mistakes. That is why we are here. God wants us to make mistakes so we can grow and be better."
Beauty and the Beast wasn't about Belle overcoming all odds to fall in love. It was about the Beast learning to forgive himself. Sometimes beauty is not only found within, it is found in imperfection and ugliness. Our struggle to learn and become like God is ugly and messy, and not at all heroic. At least not the way we think of heroism.
In reality, repentance is much more about the Beast's story, than about Belle's. I doubt that was the message the writers intended. But it is the one I needed.