In his latest film, Belle, Mamoru Hosoda has created an anime universe-within-a-universe. With its beguilingly saccharine palettes, U, the film’s virtual metaverse, promises infinite opportunity and (re)invention.
A suitably subversive fairytale for the postmodern age, at its heart, Belle is a movie with old preoccupations (new bodies, old worlds). Taking an updated and empathic perspective, it is Beauty and the Beast for the internet age. Hosoda’s atypical optimism for the cathartic potential of social media is refreshing, but also a little arbitrary.
Its pacing can flounder at times, plot and characters come and go – but it knows when to slow down. Perhaps the chance of missed opportunities and the unexplored intrigue of what’s around the corner is a testament to the authenticity of the universe Hosoda has created. Belle is a poignant triumph. ★★★★
- Starts Jun 9 D: Mamoru Hosoda (Japan, 2022).