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Film Review: Belle (Ryû to sobakasu no hime)
by Christine Riney

Mamoru Hosoda, Japan 2021

Suzu (Kaho Nakamura), a lonely teenager who finds the real world and its social conventions difficult to deal with, discovers the U app, an internet-based virtual world with five billion members. Here everyone has a new persona and as Belle, Suzu feels confident, beautiful and is able to find joy again. As Belle she takes this world by storm, giving her confidence anew in the real world.

But this virtual world has its difficulties; the other members bring their own issues with them which manifest in various ways. One such manifestation is a particularly disruptive presence known as the “Dragon” who is living on the fringes of U and stirring up trouble. As Suzu/Belle, spends more time in the virtual world she comes “face to face” with the Dragon and understands the cry for help that is driving their actions.

There is only one thing to be done and that is reconnecting fully into the real world to find a way to help the person in pain who is behind the Dragon.

Oscar-nominated anime Director-Screenwriter, Hosoda delivers a tale incorporating how technology has transformed our world. It is about lost and found connections, in both the virtual and real world. The film is beautifully realized, moving, engaging, and where we are today in so many ways.