‘Belle’ Review: Reality’s Beautiful Bite

When stardom hits in “Belle,” it does so with otherworldly force—a teenage singer’s debut concert draws a crowd of approximately 200 million. The venue really is otherworldly, though, a virtual-reality site called U, and the newly minted diva is an avatar named Belle, the glittering cyberspace projection of an unhappy high-schooler, Suzu, who lives her real-world life in a small rural town in Japan. This ambitious anime feature by Mamoru Hosoda juxtaposes the two worlds as Suzu makes her way through a troubled adolescence, and the story includes an elaborate riff on “Beauty and the Beast.” There’s too much plot for the film to manage, but its heart, and sumptuous art, are so firmly in the right place that its appeal comes through sweet and clear. (A GKIDS production, “Belle” is playing in theaters in a subtitled version, which I saw for review, and also in a dubbed version, which might be more accessible for young audiences.)