The Unlikable “Heroes” of «Belle» (2021)

Belle (2021) is a modern reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast. But in that reimagining the plot gets so mangled that it ends up making its characters unlikable.

The idea that modernizes the story is setting it partly in a virtual world called “U”. Belle (The Beauty) and The Dragon (The Beast) exist as digital avatars of regular people. The look of the avatars is not chosen by the players, but instead assigned by the game and can't be changed1.

The Dragon is not the only beastly avatar in U. To make him an unpopular outcast (like The Beast) he's introduced as follows: Belle is giving a concert on a digital stage when The Dragon crashes into the venue and begins destroying it while being chased by some vigilantes – the “Justices”. Onlookers describe him as infamous for beating up other avatars “until their data breaks”.

Translating the metaphors back into our world, we don't have much of a choice, but to imagine him as a guy on Twitter posting slurs; He's just a piece of shit. And still – after crashing her own concert! – Belle is enamoured with him on the spot.

In the subsequent 90 minutes the real person behind this avatar is revealed. A teenage boy that has to protect his little brother from their abusive father. Tragic, yes. But not enough to justify being such an ass online that there's a dedicated group of vigilantes dedicated to getting rid of you.

Speaking of which, what's up with these “Justices”? Maybe they are secretly the good guys. Well no. Their weapon of choice is a green laser that would replace The Dragon's avatar with his real life appearance, i.e. they want to doxx him. Yikes.

All in all, we've got a guy that is a 💩 online, a girl that falls in love with him, not despite, but because of this behaviour and some wannabe mods that want to doxx him. And 2 out of those 3 are sold to us as “heroes”.

Needless to say, I wouldn't recommend this film. For a more interesting take on (internet) stardom and identity go watch Perfect Blue instead.


[1] A design choice “beloved” by Rust players.

___ Reach out via Mastodon or shoot me an email