Belle and the Beast: Part 2

The next day (or possibly two or three days later; who knows), Belle is wandering around Eric’s house, muttering “Where is he?”  Um, at his out-of-town business meeting, right?

Nope, Belle sees him out the window, wandering his ground (Eric really has a thing for hanging out in the cold outdoors).  This is all pretty awkwardly set up—we have no indication of how much time has passed.

Belle takes this opportunity to head into Eric’s office, sit in his chair, and read the files he has laid out on his desk.  Geez.  Belle, that is Eric’s stuff—leave it alone!

She’s so enthralled (and so inconsiderate of other people’s stuff), that she takes the files into the kitchen, so she can read and snack under the watchful eye of Mrs. Haygood (I know I kept calling her Mrs. Higgin in Part 1, but IMDB confirms that she is Mrs. Haygood.  I’m sorry, but when the actors say the name, it sounds like Higgin every time!)

Oh, and Mrs. Haygood is unpacking groceries, including a carton of twenty-four eggs.  Holy crap!  Look, only Eric and Mrs. Haygood (maybe) live in this house.  I’m starting to feel like Eric is another Jordan Scoville, cursed of a sensitive tummy, with the added problem that everyone around him keeps trying to force-feed him.  Remember that humongous breakfast?

Eric does not take kindly to Belle butting into his business, though I can only assume we’re meant to side with her during this exchange:

Belle:  Eric, it’s my job—

Eric:  Your job is to do what I tell you.

Belle:  You know, despite what you may believe, I can think for myself.  And if you really want a decent assistant, let me do something besides running errands for you.

*they establish the fact that Belle actually knows that Eric is a consultant, and move the fight into the office*

Belle:  Look, you might as well let me do something more useful—you only have so many shirts I can take to the cleaners.

Eric:  I can buy more!

Ha!  I really like this guy.

Belle:  What do you have to lose?  I’ll still do all the menial stuff; just give me a chance to show you what I can do.

Eric:  You’ve been here a couple of weeks, do you think I trust you with anything of impor—

Belle:  If you want a real assistant, then yes!

Okay, as shitty as it was of Eric to threaten to call Belle’s dad’s boss if Belle didn’t work for him to pay off the debt, Eric still has a point.  He is her boss, weird and wrong though this situation is, and he calls the shots.  And she’s doing personal-assistant-type work: coordinating his schedule, making his life easier by doing business chores.  I mean, it’s not like he’s calling her an “assistant” and then making her scrub the floors and clean toilets (not that there is anything wrong with such work: I’ve done it today myself!).

My point is, Belle is acting like this is her MBA internship or something, and thus that she deserves to be involved in the actual workings of Eric’s business.  Which she doesn’t.  At all.

Nevertheless, Eric hands Belle a bunch of files…

Eric:  Fine.  Read all these.  When you start to understand what you’re really dealing with, then we’ll talk.

He stalks off, and Belle gets a “ha-ha, I won” smirk on her face.  As you would.

After a long morning of reading files and doing zero real work for Eric, Belle wanders into the “staff kitchen,” and just straight-up asks Mrs. Haygood why Eric is the way he is.  Which seems a bit rude since he just gave her exactly what she wanted.

But Mrs. Haygood turns out to be quite happy to divulge the private details of Eric’s life to a relative stranger!

Eric used to be married and had a successful business with a couple of his friends, and…

Mrs. Haygood:  He went to church, strong as everyone else.

I’ll just cut in here to say that I find that a weird turn of phrase.  Eric went to church strongly?

Beauty vs. Belle Change!

In Beauty:

Mrs. Higgin:  He went on a mission to…um…oh, someplace in Europe.

In Belle:

[This line is cut.]

(I wonder where Belle’s brother is?  Africa?  Orlando?)

Mrs. Haygood:  Then his wife died.  Sarah was her name.  It was an accident, but Eric took it very hard.

Wait, so if someone you love dies in an accident, you usually don’t take it hard, the hell???

Mrs. Haygood:  He blamed God for it.  Stopped going to church, then he started drinking.

Belle:  So that is true.

This bit about drinking plays out the same in both versions, and in a rather different way than I would have expected.  After all, the idea is that Mormons don’t drink at all, ever, and there is certainly a strong strain in conservative Christianity these days that also says that any good Christians…never drink, ever.

In light of this, it’s interesting that, despite Belle’s initial reaction, the real problem is that Eric’s drinking became problem drinking, not merely having a glass of wine with dinner.

Mrs. Haygood:  Alcohol affected Eric so much that his business partners…his so-called friends…ousted him from his own company.  He was alright financially, as you can see.  That just made matters worse.  He was drinking so much that his whole life was out of control. …  Got so bad, he eventually checked himself into one of those rehab clinics.  Hasn’t had a drink in five years.

That’s…really cool of Eric.  That’s a lot of tragedy in a short amount of time, and he handled it all himself.

Which…I’m not sure that’s a great point for a Christian movie to make.  Problems come along in life, or you even create them yourself?  Why, solve them yourself!  With no help from family, friends, the church, or God!

But of course, Eric is still mean.  Which sucks and all, but is not like being a creepy stalker.  And hell, apart from not paying his former assistant for her last two weeks of work, he’s mostly just kinda snappish, which lots of people are who haven’t gone through widower-hood in his early twenties.

(I’m guessing as to the age.  Mormon boys usually go on missions at age 19 or 20, and missions last two years.  And Mrs. Higgin seems to place the mission and the death of Sarah very close together in time, which makes it seem like Eric got back from Europe and almost immediately got married.  That would also fit with the fact that this all happened ten years ago, putting Eric in his early thirties, which is how old he looks.)

(Then again, it is often risky to guess a man’s age.  I’m always reminded of the line from All About Eve:

Margo:  Bill’s thirty-two.  He looks thirty-two.  He looked it five years ago.  He’ll look it twenty years from now. I hate men.

Gorammit, I love that movie.  Haven’t seen it?  Watch it!)

Anyway, Mrs. Haygood philosophizes on Eric’s attitude:

Mrs. Haygood:  Everybody takes hard times differently.  For Eric, he still blames God.  And all those rumors don’t help, either.

I know, right, what with the church using him as a Sunday School lesson and all!

***

That evening, as Belle is reading Eric’s files, she gets a call from Craig, inviting her out to dinner or a movie.  She semi-politely puts him off for “maybe this weekend,” and it all seems perfectly innocuous until the camera pans back to reveal that Craig called her from his car which is parked outside Belle’s house.

Holy crap.

Weirdly, as Craig pulls away, light hijinks music plays.  Because creepy stalking behavior is goofy fun, I guess.

***

The next day, Belle talks to Eric in his bitchin’ home theater about the files she’s read.

theater

Cool.

Eric:  Tell me what you learned.

Belle:  I thought your analysis was pretty good.

Eric:  *rolls his eyes*  That means so much to me.

I don’t blame him for the sarcasm here.  It really does sound like she’s giving him a vapid compliment to avoid the question.  And I like that Eric doesn’t just take every compliment and run with it, as his due.

Belle continues her compliments on Eric’s intelligence and insight, but of course finds that his fault is that he’s “a little harsh on them.”  Because when companies hire a consultant to help them do better, they really need everything to be candy-coated, I guess.

(Not for nothing, but Eric just can’t keep the smile off his face in this scene, even when he’s supposed to be annoyed.  Naturally, this does not lead to a reshoot.  Don’t get me wrong, I like this treatment of the Beast as a basically decent guy who is mean to everyone, but really just needs a hug, but stop smiling when you’re supposed to be angry.)

Eric boots Belle out of the theater, and goes to work out.  Say what you will about the guy, but he’s found constructive ways to cope with stress.

Later, at her real part-time job, Anna is a good friend to Belle again:

Beauty vs. Belle Change!

In Beauty:

Anna:  Is it really worth it?  I mean, your dad could find another job eventually.

Belle:  Nnnnn…it took him months to find this one.  Plus, with James on his mission and Mike and Kelli…we need the stability.

In Belle:

Anna:  Is it really worth it?  I mean, your dad could find another job eventually.

Belle:  Nnnnn…it took him months to find this one.  Plus, with James away at school and Mike and Kelli…we need the stability.

(Interesting naming scheme for the kids in this family.  The girls are Belle and Kelli, two sorta-popular, “modern” names that sound similar.  The boys are James and Michael, two very popular, classic Bible names.  Of course, Belle must be Belle, but it’s still interesting to think about.)

***

Short scene:  Mrs. Haygood tells Eric dinner is ready and to hurry or it’ll get cold.  He’s nonplussed by the news.  Totally the reincarnation of Jordan Scoville.  After the tense day he’s had, he’ll probably have tummy troubles all night long.

***

Eh, maybe I was wrong, because turns out Eric was catching a cold.  The next morning, when Belle comes into his room to drop his clean clothes, she catches him still in bed, miserable and coughing.  But he’s also in better spirits than we’ve ever seen him:

Belle:  I’m so sorry, I thought you were already in the office.  I should’ve checked…sorry.

Eric:  *small smile*  Good thing I wasn’t in the shower.

Belle:  Eee–yeah.

(At this line, Belle genuinely blushes.  It’s actually pretty cute.)

Then Eric very sweetly apologizes—twice!—for his behavior yesterday, and gives her the day off.  (Though how a day off would matter in the paying-for-the-vase scheme is left unsaid.  Maybe he’ll just mark a credit for a day’s work.)

***

The next day, Belle seems emboldened enough by the apology to inquire about the (very weird-looking) bottle of liquor Eric keeps in a display box in his office.

Beauty vs. Belle Change!

In Beauty:

Belle:  Isn’t it kind of a temptation?

Eric:  That’s coming from someone who would never understand.  Have you ever had a drop of alcohol in your life?

Belle:  No, and you knew that.  But that’s why I’m asking.  I really don’t understand.

In Belle:

Belle:  Isn’t it kind of a temptation?

Eric:  That’s coming from someone who would never understand.  Have you ever had a drop of alcohol in your life?

Belle:  *gives him a “c’mon, really” look*

This edit makes a lot of sense.  In Beauty, Eric knows that a good Mormon girl like Belle wouldn’t touch alcohol.  In Belle, Eric knows Belle is a serious Christian, but that’s no guarantee that she’s never tasted alcohol.

Eric explains that the weird bottle is “a reminder…to never go there again.”  Eric kinda rocks.  Also, all this talk of drinking is making me thirsty.

Hang on a minute.

Yum.

Anyway, they both take different business calls, which culminates with Belle taking the fall for Eric forgetting to send out an urgent package yesterday (because he was sick).  Eric is quite touched by this (though it’s implied that he sets the record straight with the client), and even asks Belle to edit his response to a client, to make it more “diplomatic.”  Aww, she is thawing his cold, cold heart!

***

But it turns out to be a case of three steps forward, two steps back.  When Eric reads Belle’s edits, he finds that she’s written things like “too harsh, too critical, too mean.”  Eric gets ticked at this, and though this is supposed to be another instance of his beastly temper, I really don’t blame him.  It’s not exactly constructive criticism.

He tosses her notes off the balcony, and goes to play some pool.  I like this characterization of Eric—they’ve hit several times that he really needs a physical outlet when he gets stressed.  And sure enough, after a few minutes, he feels remorse and goes down to help Belle pick up the papers.  And I don’t even blame her here for being a bit ticked at him for running hot and cold.

He helps her up (this being, I think, the first time they’ve touched), and they go for a little walk together.  Eric explains that his wife did all the gardening and landscaping, which I assume means that Eric grew up in this house, since he and his very young wife lived here as newlyweds.

Belle:  How long ago did she pass away?

Eric:  Ten years ago.  But you knew that, didn’t you?  Mrs. Haygood has a tendency to talk about my history.

Wow.  I would have a tendency to fire the gossipy wench, if she talked about my history to everyone she met.

Eric apologizes freaking again, emphasizing twice that he appreciates her work.  What a doll he’s turning out to be.

Interestingly, the next scene finds Belle doing her MBA homework in Eric’s living room.  That seems…odd.  Why not just go home and do it?  Does she think he’ll be happy that she’s doing homework while on his clock?

I guess he is, because he starts to help her with it, aided by the romantic montage music.

It’s not a training montage, of course, but a Falling in Love montage, where they are shown working together, looking at the Bible or Book of Mormon together, playing basketball together, playing pool together.

One shot shows Mrs. Haygood watching them, smiling and nodding in satisfaction.  Hate that gossipy bitch.

Just as things are looking up, though, here comes Gaston Craig to spoil things.  He shows up at Eric’s house while Belle is working.  (Creepy!)  He scolds her for not being available to him at all times, and Belle tries to be nice to him, but clearly this guy needs a kick in the ass.

He may be a creepy stalker, but he’s not a fool, and quickly discerns that Belle likes Eric.  He’s more annoyed by the fact that Eric is rich than anything else, though he then brings up Eric’s “questionable” nature.  But it’s when he calls Eric “beast” that Belle actually gets pissed and buggers off.

Oh, and Eric witnessed the whole thing (from the balcony above them)!  (Kudos to the screenwriters for not having Belle say something that could be misinterpreted as mean to Eric, and making a “Big Misunderstanding” plotline.  Eric only sees and hears that Belle is being fair and nice and that she won’t hear Eric be disrespected by someone standing in his freaking yard.)

I like that Craig is becoming creepier and creepier.

Next time: a kinda-sorta date!  And Belle actually attempts to (re)convert Eric!

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Posted on May 24, 2014, in Belle and the Beast: A Christian Romance, Movies. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. He went to church, strong as everyone else.

    I’m guessing this is shorthand for “strong in his faith”, i.e. a solid believer.

    Also, I’m wondering if Mrs. Haygood has some kind of blackmail material she’s holding in reserve? Because between the way she freely gossips about his past and the way she insists on cooking food that doesn’t suit him, it’s hard to see why he puts up with her. Maybe she helped raise him or something, the situation would definitely make more sense if she’d been part of his life since childhood.

    • Maybe she helped raise him or something, the situation would definitely make more sense if she’d been part of his life since childhood.

      I kept thinking the same thing myself, but nothing is ever said or hinted along those lines.

      It would also fit with a small conversation I didn’t cover–they’re all three in the kitchen, and Belle begins, “Mr. Landry—” and Mrs. Haygood corrects her: “Call him ‘Eric,’ dear.” And Eric gives her a look much like one might give a parent: “Mo-oom, stop embarrassing me!” but doesn’t contradict her.

      Hell, that would also fit with Kelli’s statement that he is like Batman: orphaned as a child, raised in luxury by one trusted servant.

      But we’re left only to assume all this. 😉

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        But we’re left only to assume all this. 😉

        Which is still a step above directly telling the audience in so many words (as is done in so many other Christianese storytelling).

  2. Eric is suffering from a mild case of Stonepola-syndrome. He’s a bit of a jerk at the start, but he isn’t all that beastly, which cheapens his alleged redemption arc. And while Eric’s “transformation” isn’t done all at once at the end of the movie, it’s still not very believable. He just kinda turns nice. There’s no real reason given why he suddenly drops the jerky attitude, especially since Belle isn’t being all that nice or helpful or “lightening up the lives of those around her”. Ruby is right, she’s acting pretty entitled and demanding for a poor, kindly woman who took a great burden upon herself, desperate to save her father’s job no matter what it takes.

    Oh, and the unbeliever is also given a Dead Little Sister sob story, because that’s the only way Christians can think of portraying someone losing their faith while still deserving god’s love and redemption by the end credits. But Stonepola was hardly the first in that respect.

    Re: “Strong in his faith” = nice, pleasant man, “Stopped going to chuch” = Beast: Well, fuck you too Church of Latter Day Saints.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy

    This edit makes a lot of sense. In Beauty, Eric knows that a good Mormon girl like Belle wouldn’t touch alcohol. In Belle, Eric knows Belle is a serious Christian, but that’s no guarantee that she’s never tasted alcohol.

    A lot of “serious Christians” are still “Drys”.

    I’ve even heard it said that when the Altar Call began in tent revivals, it was the peak of the Temperance Movement leading up to Prohibition, and signing a “Dry Pledge” was part of the salvation ritual; “walking the aisle” got them all up front to sign the Pledge in public.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Weirdly, as Craig pulls away, light hijinks music plays. Because creepy stalking behavior is goofy fun, I guess.

    One word: TWILIGHT. (sparkle sparkle)

    • Oh, no, no, no. Twilight would never suggest stalking is goofy fun. Far from it in fact: Stalking is used to display how seriously you are about your deep, destined love for that person.

  5. When I was living on my own I’d sometimes buy a tray of forty eggs, but that was because I was going to pickle them. 🙂

    • See, that makes sense. But I have no doubt that Mrs. Haygood will fry them up, four at a time, try to serve them to Eric, then, when he refuses, throw them into the trash.

      So wasteful. -_-

    • With food prices going up and up, I will not knock someone stocking up on eggs when they’re on sale! (I live alone and I’ve had as many as 5 dozen eggs at one time in my fridge, once I learned that if you rub Vaseline on the shells they’ll stay good for literally months.)

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