Halle Bailey's Ariel sings atop a rock in the ocean in the live-action The Little Mermaid.

Everyone Has Picked Up on the Big Thing That Sets ‘The Little Mermaid’ Apart From Other Remakes

CUTIES!!!

When I was younger, Ariel was my favorite Disney princess, and The Little Mermaid was my favorite film. I would watch it incessantly, and now, Disney has done it again, and at the ripe old age of 22, the film is my whole personality and will remain so until at least the release of Barbie next month.

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There are so many things that set this live-action adaptation apart from the others (for a start, it’s actually good), but the main aspect for me is the chemistry between its leads, Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King, who have some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen.

Of course, they had a screen test together, which is done in the film industry to see how well two actors perform together, and for casting directors and producers to figure out who works together best. On their screen test, Bailey said in an interview, “I think that from the moment we met there was this genuine friendship and connection that we had, and I was so grateful for that. I think in our screen test, the first time, we felt that right away.” She then went on to gush about Jonah, as he has with her in other interviews.

@seasonedbf

They need to start making The Little Mermaid 2 asap, we need then back together again #seasoned #hallebailey #jonahhauerking #thelittlemermaid #littlemermaid #disney #tlm #uk #uktiktok #bff #besties

♬ original sound – Seasoned
@sassycreate

Not saying we’d react the same way, but we’d definitely react the same way ?? #fyp #TheLittleMermaid #HalleBailey #JonahHauerKing #RedCarpetMoments #MoviePremiere #UK

♬ original sound – SassyCreate

Their chemistry came through constantly, both on the press tour and on the red carpets. I’m not the only one who noticed it, either. People have even joked on social media about the two of them ending up as a couple.

But, honestly, the fact that they are such good friends and were able to give us such a believable performance—or as I desperately wrote in my notes to my editor, “I cannot stress how much their onscreen chemistry makes me BELIEVE that they’re in love”—is beautiful because sometimes actors can’t, and it ruins films for me. Unless they’re giving Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, I don’t really want it, and considering romance films are one of my favorite genres, it makes me very picky.

And this version of the film does give us depth to their friendship and bonding. They spend time getting to know one another—yes, even without her voice. Eric isn’t 2D (literally or figuratively) in the remake and actually engages with Ariel on a deeper level.

However, some people in the industry have pointed out that, actually, actors are trained to be able to have that level of intimacy onscreen. An article from Daily Actor argues that it isn’t chemistry between the leads, but rather them being in tune with each other—being able to “deeply listen” to the other person and be receptive to their body language.

“That perpetual search for the elusive chemistry is counter-productive in two key ways: It diminishes the true talent of ‘attunement’ – a level of acting for which those legendary actors do not get sufficient credit – and it conveys a misperception to auditioning and aspiring actors: that they either have chemistry or they don’t; it’s beyond their control.

“The truth is that ‘attunement’ – being in tune with another – is what directors seek, despite calling it something else. And attunement is a proficiency that every actor can and should cultivate.”

Despite that argument, I would still say that Halle and Jonah do have chemistry and that it goes beyond their brilliant acting skills (which I believe will get them both awards), because no one else could’ve brought Ariel or Eric, and definitely not their relationship, to the big screen like they have.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


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Author
Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.