This is disappointingly lifeless, and shallow, and the soundtrack! So many violins, you'll leave feeling as if you've been quite violently smacked around the head with one. Repeatedly.
The film is concerned largely with intellectual horrors and portrays the fight against slavery rather neatly as a growing feeling of internal guilt that slowly turns society toward the light.
| Original Score: 2/4
A slice of Masterpiece Theatre cheese in which a biracial heiress makes her way through 18th-century English society while her guardian tries an insurance fraud case involving a slave ship.
| Original Score: C
Visually drab despite its appealing range of period London scenery, Belle is a well-intentioned but somewhat emotionally stiff drama.
| Original Score: 2/5
Belle isn't awful, but it is awfully slow, didactic and far too reliant on Mbatha-Raw's fine, expressive eyes.
| Original Score: 3/5
This costume drama suffers slightly from the overwrought melodrama risked by the genre.
Lots to recommend but there's enough here for two movies and in trying to tell both stories the picture shortchanges each one.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Powerful stuff, for sure. Yet, when Asante finally closes with a close-up of Belle's portrait, there's something in her eyes and her smile that suggests so much more.
Belle feels like sitting through the rehearsal process of a Broadway play that's in serious need of work.
| Original Score: C-
It's an inert, pompous, un-cinematic piece of cinema.
Treatment like this makes people shrug off reality rather than process it.
The golden-hued "Belle," handsomely made with lavish period detail, has none of the charged friction of its poster.
[The movie] is so determined to be moral and good and optimistically anti-tragic that it forgets to be interesting, original, and illuminating.
...it does seem obvious that the inherently stirring material could (and should) have been employed to much better effect (ie this is just lifeless, for the most part).
A history-based story that both stilted and melodramatic.
This British historical drama is getting the "inspiring true story" treatment, though the inspiring parts aren't true and the true parts aren't inspiring.
The movie seems to exist to give its white characters belated moments of conscience.
Something like 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' crossed with 'Pride and Prejudice.'
Belle is handsome-looking, shot in golden, faded-brocade tones by Ben Smithard, but it moves stiffly, encumbered by too many petticoats of expository dialogue.
Director Amma Assante and screenwriter Misan Sagay weigh down everything by introducing portentous melodrama and brittle social dramedy.